Thanksgiving is this Thursday. We’ve come a long way since the first official national Thanksgiving, proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The tradition has evolved over the years, but one thing has remained – families and friends come together to celebrate.

The origins

Happy ThanksgivingDespite becoming a national federal holiday in 1863, Thanksgiving celebrations have taken place since at least 1621. The Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians are credited with the first Thanksgiving celebration, for their autumn harvest feast. This three-day feast was meant to give thanks for the first successful corn harvest by the Pilgrims in America, and religion played a big role in the holiday.

The tradition

While the religious focus of the celebrations has decreased, Thanksgiving is still heavily oriented towards family gatherings. The main activity is a generous dinner which features turkey as the main dish, accompanied by mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pies.

Some other traditional Thanksgiving activities are football games, volunteering, and parades; the Macy’s New York Thanksgiving parade being the most famous.

One of the best traditions many people use to show they are thankful is giving back to the community. Some outreach activities involve special dinners for the less fortunate.  Learn about volunteering opportunities in Broward County this Thanksgiving here.

Broward College has a strong tradition of service even beyond Thanksgiving, learn about volunteering opportunities through BC Cares.