Today America is Celebrating Thanksgiving

The tradition of thanksgiving was introduced by European Americans as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back well over four centuries in America.

They turn their back to God and giving Him thanks for His blessings.

This is not an emotional thanks but one duty to God and country.

Such thanksgivings occurred in 1541 at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas with Coronado and 1,500 of his men; 1 in 1564 at St. Augustine, Florida with French Huguenot (Protestant) colonists; 2 in 1598 at El Paso, Texas with Juan de Oñate and his expedition; 3 in 1607 at Cape Henry, Virginia with the landing of the Jamestown settlers; 4 in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia; 5 (and many other such celebrations).

But it is primarily from the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 that they derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving Day.

The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea.

Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began building shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring. 6 Emerging from that grueling winter, the Pilgrims were surprised when an Indian named Samoset approached them and greeted them in their own language, explaining to them that he had learned English from fishermen and traders.

A week later, Samoset returned with a friend named Squanto, who lived with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith.

Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about how to live in the New World, and he and Samoset helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians.

Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for good and never left them till he died.

That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by helpful Indians, reaped a bountiful harvest.

As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later to become the Governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of corn”; by the goodness of God, they are far from want.

The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends and that was America’s first Thanksgiving Festival.