Believe Nothing of What You Hear, and Half of What You See

turkey
Believe Nothing of What You Hear, and Half of What You See

On their way to establish a settlement in New Mexico, Spanish explorers on the Texas border at San Elizario in 1598 offered prayers for a bountiful feast they shared on their journey. Armed with this historical data, many modern-day wishful thinkers attempt to dub the event as the First Thanksgiving celebration in the USA. It would appear to be a stretch to connect that feast to our 21st century celebration in November.

History also recognizes that in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln officially proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November, and most people related the proclamation to a 1621 event when Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast.

While the Plymouth festivity is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies, it was not the original. Many days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies in Colonial times. Yet, the first to be directly connected to the celebration we enjoy today actually took place in 1619, and was not at all a glorious family event. We have much improved the holiday over the last 400 years.

The roots of Thanksgiving Day in English America actually stem from a celebration on December 4, 1619, a few miles from Jamestown, Virginia, on land taken from the Indians by profiteers backed by venture capitalists in Europe. The participants decreed a “yearly and perpetually kept holy day as a day of thanksgiving…” I do not take pride in this historical record (see Unsettling the Wilderness ).

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The current holiday has been transformed into a family day of thanks for all our good fortunes by modern-day residents of North America in appreciation of our blessings. Of this, I am proud.
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Comments

  1. That was really interesting. I have to admit that I know very little about Thanksgiving.

    C x

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  2. Carol: I learned a ton about the holiday from my research, and I'm glad I did. The special day means more to me now that I know we have, as a society, turned it into a family day.

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  3. I also did not know that. Here in my country we do not celebrate Thanksgiving. Thank you for the information

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  4. Ah yes, you said you had one to offer, and this is really interesting as well....love your title, I first thought this would be more about what's happening in our daily world with a title like that...ha, ha...but I agree with your closing line as well.....!

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  5. FanaticoUm: It is a nice holiday, and I am glad that in the 21st century, we remember to be thankful for all we have.

    Karen: Thank you. Did you also see Unsettling the Wilderness?

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  6. That also applies to what is on the internet...lol.. As far as your post, I had read the same... What a surprise that was.

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  7. This was very interesting. I don't know much about Thanksgiving to be honest.

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  8. KBF: I agree. In fact, that is a big problem with students today. They think research means Google!

    KB: I don't believe they have such a holiday in NZ, correct? If they do, it is not the same holiday, but it is always good to be thankful for all we have.

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  9. Thanks for supplying us with this history. Very interesting. Hope your Thanksgiving Day celebration was a joyous one.

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  10. Oh many thanks for this insight :D I hope Thanksgiving went swimmingly for you and yours. X

    http://wordsinsync.blogspot.com/2011/11/life-after-nanowrimo.html

    Shah .X

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  11. Lately I've noticed that every day is a day of Thanksgiving minus the feast. One of the perks of old age. :)

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  12. *Nothing* of what you hear ... ?

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  13. I've heard that Jamestown, the living museum, offers a wonderful experience on Thanksgiving, though I don't know how historically correct it might be. One of these days when I stop having kids and all the toddlers are old enough not to get lost in a crowd we will go check it out. I've heard really good things from people who have visited.

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  14. salarsenッ: Thank you. My holiday was terrific, and I hope yours was as well.

    shah wharton: Always good to hear from you. My holiday was great, and I hope yours was even better!

    Manzi: I have felt that way for a long time. You're still my idol!

    Suze: I want proof, not rumor or speculation.

    CailinMarie: I heard good things myself. Let me know if you learn something new.

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  15. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because of the priority of relationship and gratitude over shopping and commercialism. Your information about all the "first" Thanksgiving celebrations in America highlights one of the sad and ironic contradictions in our history. However, harvest celebrations go back into the dim recesses of early history, I think. Perhaps we can focus on those "first" Thanksgivings!

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  16. Galen: Agreed. I do believe, however, that our present celebration, which is also my favorite, is a modern-day creation, not an American tradition traceable to sad historical times. Our November holiday is all about family, and of this we should be proud.

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  17. I am not a holiday person, unfortunately. I used to be, but that changed many years ago. If I want to spend all day in the kitchen, cooking a fabulous meal for family and friends, then, by God I will do it anytime I want to, and it doesn't have to be in November. Yes, I know that turkeys are cheaper then, and that is exactly why I stock up and fill my freezer. You can visit me in June and have a cheap turkey!!

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  18. Judie: I would love to visit you and Rod in June. As for turkey, I'm a vegetarian.

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