Giving Thanks

Text by Candace Kanes

Images from Maine Historical Society and Freeport Historical Society

Thanksgiving has been more than a holiday in its own right for many years. As early as the 1940s, the yearly day of thanks was seen as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. And for many, it marks a day of football games.

But the roots of Thanksgiving are much deeper, going back centuries to harvest festivals and, to Europeans in North America, at least to 1621 when colonists at Plymouth and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn feast.

Various types of Thanksgiving observances have been held in Maine, from declarations of days of thanks for health, harvest and military victories to school children dressing as Pilgrims and Indians.

The variety of celebrations over time suggests the continuing importance of a culture stopping to reflect -- and setting aside a time to do so.

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