|The First Thanksgiving by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1912-15 (PD).|
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Mayflower Pilgrims Host Thanksgiving
A small band of 53 Mayflower Pilgrims and survivors hosted a tremendous Thanksgiving Feast with 90 Indians.
Why Thanksgiving? Why would the Mayflower Pilgrims hold a Thanksgiving Feast that second winter, 1621-22, when 45 of 102 of their number, men, women, and children died tragically during their first winter, 1620-21? Of 18 women, 14 died, leaving four adult women living. In November, 1621, only 53 persons were alive to celebrate that first Thanksgiving.
Never has anyone remarked on this seeming incongruity. Hardly would there seem a cause for such a celebration. However, these Pilgrims were devout people of the Book and looking toward their Bible, we might find a clue. In Deuteronomy, chapter 14, is such an indication.
“Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always” (Deut. 14:22-23 NKJ).
And again it says:
“At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands” (Duet. 14:28-29 NKJ).
In seeking God's blessing, the Pilgrims likely made the decision to celebrate the Feast of Thanksgiving and extend the scripture invitation to the aliens, their new neighbors, the Indians. Through the natives, Samoset and Squanto, the great chief Massasoit arranged a peace treaty with them in March which lasted his lifetime.
So in the Fall of 1621, Massasoit and 90 Indians joined the 53 Pilgrims in that first Thanksgiving, lasting three days. The Pilgrims realized an abundant harvest of cod, bass, and other fish, waterfowl, wild turkeys, meal and corn. The Indians generously brought along five deer from their hunt to provide an ample supply of venison.
This first bountiful Thanksgiving overshadows even the feast we celebrate today. May yours be such a blessing. Remember the reason....
– Bill Hunt © 2010
Barton, David. “Celebrating Thanksgiving in America.” Wallbuilders.com
"Plymouth Colony," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.