Most history books these days tell us that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims in 1621. Not true. Perhaps these 3 facts will clear up this culturally accepted historical misconception which has reached the proportions of "myth."
Have you ever heard the old adage, "real power belongs to those who write the history books?" Unfortunately there is veracity in that statement, but we shouldn't let us deter us from seeking the truth.
But the truth is out there. Let's hang onto it. Here are the facts.
1st --> The First American Thanksgiving was celebrated on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. September 8 is the Feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered. This was 56 years before the Puritan pilgrims of Massachusetts.
2nd --> The next Thanksgiving celebration occurred on American soil on April 30, 1598 in Texas when Don Juan de Onate declared a day of Thanksgiving to be commemorated by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Think about it . . . this was 23 years before the Pilgrims set sail from England on the Mayflower.
|Don Juan de Oñate & the Mansos. |
Painting by Jose Cisneros, courtesy of the University of Texas at El Paso
Did you know that the Puritan pilgrims were violently anti-Catholic? The Puritans left England because they thought that the Church of England was too Catholic. These folks were strict Calvinists. The pilgrims also opposed celebrating Christmas, dancing, musical instruments in church, and even hymns. They considered these things too papistical. Ironically, the Pilgrims shared the same problems that Catholics had in England. The Catholics who lived in Nottinghamshire where the Pilgrims originated, were persecuted mercilessly.
So while that 3rd Thanksgiving may celebrate the Calvinist Separatists who fled England,
there is more to the story. Catholics should remember that the same unjust laws that granted the crown of martyrdom to Thomas More, John Fisher, Edmund Campion, et al., are the same injustices that led the Pilgrims to Plymouth. Hmmmm, why don't the history books mention this? I do believe that the Protestant-shaded history textbooks is the fodder for a future post.
Here is my favorite favorite piece of Thanksgiving trivia.Remember Squanto, the beloved hero of Thanksgiving? Squanto (also known as: Tisquantum) was the Native American man who mediated between the Puritan Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Squanto's history is amazing. He had actually been enslaved by the English but then freed by Spanish Franciscans. Squanto thus received baptism and became a Catholic. So it was a baptised Catholic Native American who orchestrated what has become known as the "first Thanksgiving."
Most importantly, let us remember that Thanksgiving" in Greek is Eucharista. Thus, the Body and Blood of Christ is the true "Thanksgiving Meal."
This Thanksgiving be sure to raise your wine glass and recite the wonderful limerick of Hilaire Belloc.