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20 Things You Didn't Know About Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving Didn't Originate in America

When the Pilgrims first settled in America in 1620, it was actually pretty common back home in Europe to gather together in large groups for a meal and give thanks to God, according to Thanksgiving research from Mental Floss. And with so much to give thanks for in those early days—from a good crop coming in to a drought ending—it's unlikely that the 1621 celebration we all cite as the "First Thanksgiving" was truly the very first one.

In fact, it was common for an entire day of thanksgiving to be declared on the very date a ship would first land in new territory. The history books cite lots of previous examples of this, including those who came over on a ship called the Margaret in 1619 and another group of Spanish explorers back in 1565.

So why do we refer to the 1621 feast as the "First Thanksgiving"? It's probably all due to a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale. (But more on that later.)

© Pilgrim Hall Museum/AP Photo

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