"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
November 1, 2013
Thanksgiving and Amazing History
by Dian Thomas

There have been festivals associated with the harvest every since man began to till the soil. The Chinese celebrated such a feast thousands of years ago, and in our hemisphere, Native Americans and colonists celebrated the harvest years before the Pilgrims arrived.

Nevertheless, Thanksgiving Day, as we now know it, traces its roots directly back to 1621 and the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Persecuted in England for their religious beliefs, they sailed to the Netherlands in hopes of finding a better life.

Instead they found a language barrier, cultural differences, and economic hardships. Once again they uprooted their families, but this time it was for the promised freedom and prosperity of the New World.

The Speedwell sailed from the Netherlands in July, 1620, and met up with the Mayflower and more emigrants in Southampton, England. By the time they made it to Plymouth, England, the Speedwell had deteriorated so badly that it had to be left behind.

Of the 102 passengers that sailed on the Mayflower that September, 41 were Puritans, who referred to themselves as “Saints” — 17 men, 10 women and 14 children. Eighteen were indentured servants, and the rest, called “strangers” by the Puritans, were seeking economic o[opportunity, not religious freedom.

On November 10, land was sighted off Cape Cod. The Pilgrims chose a site on the mainland for colonization, and on December 11, first set foot in the deserted Indian town of Patuxet (which would become Plymouth).

Three years of plague had exterminated the Indian population. During a bleak winter filled with sickness and hardships, 47 members of the tiny immigrant community were buried in unmarked graves to prevent hostile Indians from knowing the number of dead.

The survivors’ first harvest was a joyous occasion. A three-day festival of Thanksgiving replaced both Christmas and New Year’s for these Puritan settlers. Their difficult living conditions left them little time or resources, and their religious beliefs also discouraged merrymaking, especially on traditional feast days which the established church had observed.

Since God had allowed them to survive the winter, Thanksgiving seemed to them to be a more fitting celebration.

In 1789, George Washington proclaimed the first national day of Thanksgiving. Abraham Lincoln declared in 1863 that Thanksgiving Day be held annually on the last Thursday of November.

The American traditions of Thanksgiving are steeped in symbols of our first settlers. And don’t forget your own family traditions, whether it’s Aunt Nellie’s candied yams or Grandmother’s china gravy boat. It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them.

Look for ideas that keep giving and giving. Check out the specials that Dian has on her website. These ideas will give you more creative projects to do with you kids and grandkids. You will create the traditions and fun that will last forever. Why not give gifts that keep giving and giving. To see the holiday specials go to www.DianThomas.com and check out the items in the store that are up to 60% off.

Bookmark and Share    
About Dian Thomas

Dian Thomas was blessed with the good fortune to be born near and raised in the remote, breathtaking Manti-La Sal National Forest in southeastern Utah, where her father was the forest ranger. She took the skills she learned in the outdoors and turned them into a New York Times best-selling book, Roughing It Easy. Her appearance on the NBC's "Tonight" show with Johnny Carson boosted her into the national media scene, where she became a regular on NBC's "Today" show for eight years and then ABC's "Home Show" for six years. After more than 25 years of media exposure and 19 books, she now shares her practical insights and wisdom with audiences who want to savor life.

A former Relief Society president, Dian is currently serving as a visiting teacher. Visit her website at www.DianThomas.com

Copyright © Hatrack River Enterprise Inc. All Rights Reserved. Web Site Hosted and Designed by WebBoulevard.com