When Was The First Thanksgiving? 1565 In Florida

First Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts 1621

SAINT AUGUSTINE, Florida – The first Thanksgiving celebrated in North America occurred in 1565 at St. Augustine, Florida, 56 years before the Puritan Pilgrim Thanksgiving at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621, according to the National Park Service.

On September 8, 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and 800 Spanish settlers founded the city of St. Augustine in Spanish La Florida. As soon as they were ashore, the landing party celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving.

Reinactment of the first Thanksgiving in St. Augustine, Florida.
Reenactment of the first Thanksgiving in St. Augustine, Florida. Credit: National Park Service

Afterward, Menéndez laid out a meal to which he invited as guests the native Seloy tribe who occupied the site.

Although the first Thanksgiving in North America occurred in Florida, it did not become the origin of the national annual tradition in the United States.

What President Made Thanksgiving A National Holiday?

Thanksgiving Day has been annually observed in the United States since 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared the holiday as the last Thursday in November.

In 1939, there were five Thursdays in November, so President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the observance date to the fourth Thursday so that retailers would have more time to advertise their products before Christmas during the Great Depression.

President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving back even further in 1940 and 1941 to the third Thursday in November.

Following an uproar over Roosevelt changing the Thanksgiving dates, the U.S. Congress passed a law setting the date permanently for the fourth Thursday in November which continues to the present day.

When Was The First Pilgrim Thanksgiving?

The precise date of when the Pilgrims had their Thanksgiving feast with the Indians is unknown to historians.

The first Thanksgiving lasted three days and was held after the Pilgrims’ fall harvest and occurred sometime between late September and early November 1621.

Food At First Thanksgiving

There was a wide variety of food at the First Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony in 1621  that included wild turkey, deer, pork, cod and other fish, pumpkin, squash, claims, berries, and lobster.