In 1620, 102 people from England sailed to North America on a boat called the Mayflower. The boat landed at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. We call this group the Pilgrims (a pilgrim is someone who travels to visit a holy place, or for religious reasons). About half of these 102 were members of a religious group that had separated from the Church of England. The other half of the Mayflower group came to the New World for economic reasons. The Pilgrims had many difficult times. Of the 102 who left from England, 47 died by the end of the first year in the New World.
Some Native Americans were very helpful to the Pilgrims. They taught them how to plant corn and barley, eat oysters, catch fish with nets, and hunt wild turkey. By the end of the first year, the Pilgrims were very grateful. They had grown corn, had started a beaver fur trade, and had built buildings. So they decided to have a three-day harvest feast. This feast was the first Thanksgiving celebration.
The foods eaten today at Thanksgiving are foods that the Pilgrims might have had that first year—turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November and is a time for feasting with family.