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SALT LAKE CITY -- In the autumn of 1621, the surviving Pilgrims (whose numbers had been diminished by about half due to disease and hardship) celebrated their successful harvest by declaring a time of feasting and thanksgiving.
As Edward Winslow recorded, "at which times amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some 90 men, who for three days we entertained and feasted."
Today we consider that event our "First Thanksgiving," but the holiday that we celebrate today is actually a combination of two different and long-standing holidays that were celebrated by various cultures around the world: the harvest-home festival or feast that was celebrated when the main crops were harvested; and a formal day of thanksgiving, which could be declared for any occasion, such as a great victory in battle or as an expression of gratitude for rain.
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