Thursday, November 26, 2009

The True Story of the First Thanksgiving

Every year we gladly celebrate Thanksgiving Day. It's a day off from work; a day to gorge ourselves on turkey; a day to watch football and prep for shopping on Black Friday. But our secular thoughts on Thanksgiving are far from the reasons for the first Thanksgiving celebrations in this country.

Rewind back to the early 1600's. A few years earlier, Christopher Columbus had stumbled upon North America while looking for a quicker passage to Asia. Although he never quite acknowleged its value, it's not long until all sorts of settlers are making the dangerous journey across the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of finding a new life in the New World. Of course, once they disembarked from the ships and established a safe place to live, the next thing these new settlers did was to set aside a day to thank God for protecting them during their journey.

Our whole lives, we have been raised on stories of how the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts gladly invited neighboring Native tribes to a huge feast of thanksgiving. Ummm, I'm calling BS on that.

The Pilgrims saw the Native tribes like the Wampanoag as non-Christian heathens. However, when the first harvests didn't come in quite as bountifully as the Pilgrims hoped, they gladly accepted assitance from the Wampanoag, especially Squanto. Squanto had learned English when he had been captured a few years earlier by previous European explorers in the area.

The first Thanksgiving DID include a meal, both the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag contributed to the meal, and they ate at the same time. But the Pilgrims gathered together on one side of the open air eating area for their meal while the Wampanoag sat on the other side.

Now, to be fair, the governor of the Plymouth Colony did ask God to bless Squanto for helping them get their colony safely established, dealing successfully with the Wampanoag and for helping increase their meager harvest. He asked that God bestow blessings upon Squanto like he was a Christian instead of a heathen Indian.

Not exactly what we are taught in kindergarten is it? But hey, if the story doesn't get perpetuated, Hobby Lobby can't sell all those little figurines! In my mind, the first Thanksgiving was probably a lot like the Thanksgiving program in Addams Family Values.

No comments:

Post a Comment