Thanksgiving began with the first European settlers in America. They gathered their crops, celebrated and gave thanks for the food.
Tradition says Pilgrim settlers from England celebrated the first thanksgiving in sixteen twenty-one. There is evidence that settlers in other parts of America held earlier thanksgiving celebrations. But the Pilgrims' thanksgiving story is the most popular.
The Pilgrims were religious dissidents who fled oppression in England. They went first to the Netherlands. Then they left that country to establish a colony in North America. The Pilgrims landed in sixteen twenty in what later became known as Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Their voyage across the Atlantic Ocean was difficult. Their first months in America were difficult, too. About one hundred Pilgrims landed just as autumn was turning to winter. During the cold months that followed, about half of them died.