The story always starts the same way. A ship, the Mayflower leaves Europe and sails for religious freedom (not to be confused with freedom from religion which came almost 400 years later)
The ship carried 102 passengers and it took over two months to make the crossing. Bad weather and the usual oceanic thrills and danger. They missed their destination at Plymouth (Not Belvedere as has been put forth) They had to sail across Massachusetts bay from Cape Cod a month later.
Those pilgrims consisted of Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Quakers, Presbyterians, Protestants and a few Jews.
There was a genuine deliverance, providential and we are sure, astonishing. Many of the ‘Pilgrims’ as they began to known, died in that first year and in 1621 the first feast began with about 90 of the Wampanoag natives with fish, venison (Five deer) Eels, shelfish, stews, veggies and beer. They fired guns, and drank liquor to seal the treaty of peace.
The treaty lasted till King Phillips war (1675 -1676) when a lot of colonists and natives lost their lives. About 54 years of peace. It was a war between the colonists and indigenous peoples.America’s bloodiest war as 30% of the colonists were killed (2500) and a dozen towns destroyed. About 5000 Wampanoag’s were killed. The head of the natives was Metacong known as Prince Phillip!
The colonists, of course, continued to pray and thank God for provision.
When the American Constitution was enacted in 1798, (221 years ago) Congress left celebrating to the states. Finally on October 3, 1863 President Lincoln proclaimed Thursday November 26th. In 1942 president Roosevelt declared the 3rd Thursday in November to give an extra boost to the merchants for another week of Christmas shopping!
The Thanksgiving holiday 130 years ago had feasts coupled with the Yale vs Princeton football game (1876) In 1920 costumed revelers and Gimbals department store had a parade with Santa Claus. In 1924 the Macy’s parade, also in NYC had huge balloons.
Now the celebration is focused on Intercultural peace, immigrants and home and family.
Canada has their Thanksgiving on the 2nd Monday in October. I began in 1578 for the thankfullness of Milton Frobisher’s surviving. It was on November 6th from 1879 and changed in 1957 to the 2nd Monday in October. 442 years ago. AMAZING.
The turkey is odd, the first presidential ‘pardon’ of a turkey destined for the table was made by President Bush in 1989. It was remanded to a farm to live out it’s life there. Ostensibly uncooked. Who knows how it turns out for a turkey that has a presidential pardon? Which would taste better? A republican or Democratic turkey?
Let us pray for the tradition of thankfulness to engulf our nation and become what it was before we got in the way of a religiously thankful people for deliverance and provision!