The first people to arrive in New England traveled across the ocean for freedom. The Pilgrims were fleeing from religious persecution within their homeland of England. They crossed the ocean on a ship named the Mayflower. In 1620, the Pilgrims made landfall on a rocky coast in the New World at a place that is know today as Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Nearly half of the people did not survive the first winter. William Bradford and Squanto had helped save the first settlers. In 1621, Govern Bradford called for a feast of "Thanksgiving". The Pilgrims called the celebration a Harvest Feast. They had wild turkeys roasted over the open fires and corn. The men, women, children and Wampanoag Indians all gathered for the celebration. The Wampanoag Indians brought deer and wild turkeys. The colonial women made squash, corn soup, cornmeal bread and the men supplied ducks and fish.
Colonist and Wampanoag Indians alike gave thanks for the good harvest. Both sides were also thankful for the good friendship that was developed. With the bountiful harvest, they would have a much easier time surviving the winter ahead. This was the reason that brought a heartfelt thanksgiving and a celebration that is continued to this day.