By Kelly Legg

Thanksgiving is a very special holiday. Some people think Thanksgiving is a day to travel to see family, or to eat turkey and stuffing, or to watch football on television. But, did you know that the first Thanksgiving happened because of a small group of Christians who wanted to worship God?

Long ago, in the early 1600’s, a group of Christians in England wanted to pray and worship God in their own way. The king controlled the Church of England and everyone was ordered to go to the same type of church.

Anyone who disobeyed the king’s way of worship would go to jail.

More than 100 families left England to search for freedom to worship God. These brave travelers were called pilgrims and they sailed across the ocean and arrived in the United States. The only people in the United States at the time were Native American Indians. The winter was long, cold, and very hard for the pilgrims. Thankfully, the Native Americans helped by supplying them with food and showed them how to farm.

The first year was so hard for the pilgrims that many got sick and died. But, with seeds and plants received from the Native Americans, the pilgrims planted crops and their fall harvest was a good one. To celebrate their good fortune, the pilgrims had a feast of thanksgiving. They ate wild turkey, duck and venison, along with fish, pumpkins, squash, corn, sweet potatoes and cranberries.

They invited all of the Native Americans who had helped them so much during their first year. This was the “First Thanksgiving.”

Over the years, Thanksgiving has become an important tradition in the United States. So, remember when you are eating turkey this Thanksgiving, to thank God for all your blessings and the freedom to worship him.

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Kelly Legg has been writing for the Osprey Observer as a freelance writer for three years, and has recently taken on the role of managing editor for the Christian Voice newspaper. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications. She currently resides in Riverview with her husband and three children.