MY POINT OF VIEW: What brought Pilgrims to our shores and the first Thanksgiving

by Gary Kennedy

The Mayflower traversed the Atlantic to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620, led by William Bradford. The reason for the journey was the pursuit of religious freedom. Protestantism was in its infancy. William Bradford was an English Puritan Separatist originally from the West Riding of Yorkshire in northern England. Protestantism is a branch of Christianity that follows the theological tenets of the Protestant Reformation. Theology is the ordinary study of the nature of the divine, or more broadly, of religious belief. Back during these times there were so many hands on religion that I am surprised there is any sanity to it all; while just leaving the Crusades with Masonic influence, the Knights Templars and the then cruel Catholic Church. This was a time of land grabs and Godly exploration. The monks and friars had many very cruel priests in their flocks and dealt out extremely cruel punishments for any sort of disobedience.

The British and the Spanish ruled the seas during these times and they gobbled up all the known world in search of wealth and labor. All their acquisitions were placed in total subservience to their mother countries. People were totally inferior and had to give undivided religious obedience to their captors. This as we know will only last so long, and then the people will revolt; as they did in many areas of the world.

The cruelty of England brought the Pilgrims to our shores; and this began the story of the initial settlement here and the first Thanksgiving. We arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620, and would have perished if not for the Wampanoag Native people. They aided with our survival through the first winter, which took many of the settlers’ lives. After being taught how to plant using dried fish for fertilizer we had our first successful crop. There were 90 Wampanoag present for a feast of vegetables, turkey and fish and pudding for dessert. This is where the history of turkey began, as they were in abundance and easy to obtain during this time. Here in Maine they eventually became extirpated and were reintroduced in the 1980s. You never would have guessed that now. They are everywhere.

The complete history is a long and dark one and would take the entire newspaper to cover it all. Anyway, in 1620, 50 pilgrims and 90 Wampanoags celebrated. The feast lasted three days. I should mention only five women survived that first winter. Thanksgiving is celebrated both as a secular as well as a religious holiday. Many argue the story of this holiday and its insemination. One example would be the arrival of a Spanish fleet in 1565 to plant a cross to christen the new settlement of St. Augustine; 800 settlers shared a meal with the Native Timucuan people.

Probably the most notable of happenings would be that of Abraham Lincoln in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender mercy all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or suffers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation”. Veterans and the official creation of Thanksgiving began on the last Thursday of November.

So this is just bits and pieces of how Thanksgiving first began. Turkey evolved in many variations to the feast that it is today on November 23, 2023. It’s now a time to give thanks to God for all that he gives and a time for family and friends to get together and enjoy their blessings together, in peace and harmony. We are going through some hard times currently, so it would be a good time to reflect on our blessings. Also, again we should never forget those who gave it all so that we could be and remain free.

God bless you and yours and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.


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