Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Who Really Had the First Thanksgiving?

by Janet Crain

The native indigenous people of the Americas had undoubtedly been celebrating Fall festivals of  thanksgiving since time immemorial. And early Spanish settlers were known to have observed a Thanksgiving in what is now Texas. 

But what of the English? The Lost Colonists of Roanoke may have very well been the first English settlers to observe Thanksgiving. But we will never know. The Jamestown settlers were highly religious and no doubt had some sort of observances. But Virginia historians say the first known Thanksgiving observed by the English according to record occurred in 1619.

In that year a group of English colonists landed in Virginia after ten weeks at sea, at the Berkeley Plantation. Virginia Historians claim that this is where the real first Thanksgiving took place. The plantation sits just a few miles from the original Jamestown settlement. 
"The Virginia Company had directives given to the settlers and the directives were that upon landing, they were to give thanks and every year thereafter make it an annual celebration in thanks to the Lord for a safe passage," says Barbara Awad, president of the Virginia Thanksgiving Festival.
The First ThanksgivingThis was about seventeen months before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth. And while the Pilgrims celebrated with a feast, much like the traditional meal Americans eat on Thanksgiving, the settlers at Berkeley Plantation had a meager meal. 
"It wasn't quite the abundant festival, the cornucopia that we usually see on Thanksgiving," says Awad. 
Historians say their feast included bacon, peas, cornmeal cakes, and cinnamon water. But regardless of the menu, to these settlers, the first Thanksgiving was much more than turkey and pumpkin pie. It was all about prayer.

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