In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers. They were an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith.
The ship finally landed in the Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims began establishing a village at Plymouth. Their first winter was brutal, claiming half of the original passengers and crew.
In March of 1621, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they were greeted by an English-speaking Abenaki Indian. Several days later, he returned with another Native American named Squanto. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple tress, catch fish in the rivers, and avoid poisonous plants.
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims' first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the colony's Native American allies. Now remembered as American's "first Thanksgiving," the festival lasted for three days.
In many American households, Thanksgiving is now a celebration centered around friends and family sharing a bountiful meal. Turkey is the main course in 90% of households. Other traditional foods includes stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.