Karen here and as Thanksgiving approaches in the coming weeks in the USA, I thought it might be fun to look at how the Samantha would have celebrated  Thanksgiving. I wondered if it would it have been just like you celebrate it today, with a big meal and crazy shopping? So I did some research and thought I would share some of that with you here today.

So do you know when the first American Thanksgiving was? I thought I did but I was actually wrong!

According to Wikipedia the first Thanksgiving celebrated nationally was in  1789  when George Washington declared the day, but it was not celebrated as a federal holiday until 1863 when then President Abraham Lincoln  proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.  Then in 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt broke with tradition and declared that Thanksgiving would now be celebrated the second to last Thursday of November. Which is how it is observed today.

k.pilgrim & indian

I wondered, where do the Pilgrims and the turkey all fit in?

We most commonly think of The First thanksgiving as the event that took place in 1621 when the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in the “new world” it is said that 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims took part in a three day celebration of thanks and a feast. The Pigrims had a history celebrating “Days of Thanks ” and brought this celebration and custom with them to the new world.


Then I wondered how does the crazy shopping part of Thanksgiving tie into the holiday?

Actually it was President Franklin Roosevelt who helped get that ball rolling! When he changed the Thanksgiving holiday in 1939 he did so to give merchants more time to sell their items before Christmas. At the time the USA was in the Great Depression and he hoped that this would help the economy and bring the USA out of the Depression.  You see at the time it was not acceptable to have Christmas Advertisements or items for sale, or on display until after Thanksgiving!  We start seeing Christmas Items arriving in stores here where I live in late August!


We always love seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and I also wondered how that came to be. It turns out that it started in 1924, as a promotion for the store and at the very end Santa Claus makes his debut. As Santa Claus is the last in the parade it is then believed that the Christmas season official starts with his arrival.


Have you ever wondered why Turkey is the tradition at Thanksgiving? It is possible but disputed that Turkey was served at that very first Thanksgiving in 1621. Turkey even if it was not served  at the first Thanksgiving has been a holiday favorite because of how big it is and how many people it can feed.  Click here to see the tutorial I did a few years ago on how to make your own salt dough turkey for your dolls. 


Looking back at Thanksgiving in 1904 I wondered what types of things Samantha would have done or looked forward to about Thanksgiving. I did some research as to what children would do after Thanksgiving dinner and I found out that girls Samantha’s age would have played parlor games, not just charades but 20 questions or even musical chairs. Board games were popular as well! In 1903 Monopoly came out and may have found it’s way into Samantha’s home, along with puzzles that families would work on together, Samantha may have played card games such as old maid or snap.  In a lot of ways Samantha’s Thanksgiving sounds like a lot of fun. Families today still enjoy these games as much as we do the Football games and parades.

I hope you enjoyed today’s Thanksgiving History Post!