I admit it, sometimes I get all bah humbug when it comes to over glorified, commercialized American traditions and so I feel the need to research and bring true meaning to each holiday and that definitely helps me to bring on the family cheer and embrace the tradition.
Wikipidea says, “Americans commonly believe that the first Thanksgiving happened in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts, there is some evidence for an earlier harvest celebration by Spanish explorers in Florida during 1565.”
I found an article in the New York Times that was written back in 1895 and it goes into great detail to the origins of Thanksgiving and the traditional menu. It also talks about, “the first day of Thanksgiving where, “Governor Bradford, invited the “greatest King Massasoit” and ninety Indians, with four women, one servant and a few maids to prepare and serve the three day feast for the colonists and their Indian guests.”
The article also mentions what happened twenty three years later, in New York in 1644, “It is related that the Dutch citizens of New York killed nearly 600 Indians and then marched home and “cheerfully” ate their Thanksgiving Day dinners.”
But what I found the most interesting was an article from Squidoo.com and here it is:
Traveling to the New World was not an easy venture for the settlers. The area where the ship made landfall had belonged to the Patuxets. Once they had arrived at what was to be known as “Plymouth Rock”, disease and the rough elements claimed many of the Europeans. Of the 110 first settlers, only 50 survived the first gruesome winter. The nearest neighbors were the Wampanoags, a civilized tribe ruled by Massasoit. The chief and his people accepted the Pilgrims and helped them. Squanto, a lone survivor of the Patuxets, made his home with these new inhabitants and taught them how to survive in this new and challenging land. At one point, a daily ration of food for a Pilgrim was 5 kernels of corn. With a simple faith that God would sustain them, no matter what, they pulled through. History records that not a single one of them died from starvation that winter. Not a one.
Without the help of the Native Americans, the Puritans would never have survived. American Indians taught them about the soil, and crops to grow, and everything about the land. The harvest of 1623 brought a surplus of corn, so much that the Pilgrims were able to help out the Indians for a change. So joyous were they that they celebrated a second Day of Thanksgiving and again invited Massasoit to be their guest. He came, bringing with him his wife, several other chiefs and braves. All sat down to a feast of 12 venison, 6 goats, 50 hogs and pigs, numerous turkeys, vegtables, grapes, nuts, plums, puddings and pies. But, lest anyone forget, all were given their first course on an empty plate. They were each given 5 kernels of corn.
Edward Winslow, in one of the only two recorded accounts of the day, said: “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
In 1659, Massasoit sold a tract of land to Miles Standish and others of Duxbury. This is the only land the Pilgrims had a true right to inhabit. Thanksgiving represents the beginning of the end for the American Indian Great Nations for it was the only time the Europeans wers actually given land by the Native Americans. It was only through the giving nature of the Native Americans that the Europeans survived. Enjoy the holiday, but remember the Native Americans at this time.