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If you guessed "Plymouth Colonists," you might be surprised. These celebrations predate the Plymouth colonists and their feast of gratitude in 1621 --
In May 1541, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and 1,500 men celebrated at the Palo Dur Canyon -- located in the modern-day Texas Panhandle -- after their expedition from Mexico City in search of gold. In 1959 the Texas Society Daughters of the American Colonists commemorated the event as the "first Thanksgiving."
Another "first Thanksgiving" occurred on June 30, 1564, when French Huguenot colonists celebrated in a settlement near Jacksonville, Florida. This "first Thanksgiving," was later commemorated at the Fort Carolina Memorial on the St. Johns River in eastern Jacksonville.
The harsh winter of 1609-1610 generated a famine that caused the deaths of 430 of the 490 settlers. In the spring of 1610, colonists in Jamestown, Virginia, enjoyed a Thanksgiving service after English supply ships arrived with food. This colonial celebration has also been considered the "first Thanksgiving." (Source: Library of Congress -- Wise Guide)
First Thanksgiving in Massachusetts
"In 1620, the area from Narragansett Bay in eastern Rhode Island to the Atlantic Ocean in southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, was the home of a village people who called themselves the Pokanoket ..."
The "First Thanksgiving" celebrated by the Plymouth Colonists was based on customs that the immigrants brought with them. The Indian contribution to the event was the menu. Roast wild duck, goose and turkey, venison made into pies with corn meal crusts, were Indian food. The robust ale, made from their one successful English crop of barley was the main non-native food. The three day feast symbolizes a rarely achieved relationship of peaceful coexistence between Indians and Europeans in the 17th century. (Source: National Museum of American Indians -- Harvest Ceremony: Study Guide)
For more information, visit You Are the Historian: Investigating the First Thanksgiving sponsored by the Plimoth Plantation Museum : Learn about being a historian by investigating the cultures of the Wampanoag Indians and the pilgrim colonists at the first Thanksgiving feast. (Flash is required.)
Remember the first Thanksgiving? American school kids are taught the story of how, in 1621, the Indian called Squanto helped the Pilgrim settlers in Plymouth survive by teaching them Native skills, such as the best method for growing corn. Thus was born the great autumn feast of thanks. But recent scholarly research is overturning the conventional understanding of Indians' relations with the settlers. In an excerpt from his new book, 1491, Charles C. Mann surveys this emerging view, which suggests that the Native Americans were far more sophisticated than previously believed-and yet at the mercy of forces that abetted the settlers' ambitions.
For the full article, see Charles C. Mann, "Squanto and the Pilgrims: Native Intelligence", Smithsonian Magazine, December 2005.
It is hard to grow up in Michigan and not have at least seen or heard the Detroit Lions playing on Thanksgiving afternoon. Detroit has played in every Thanksgiving game since 1934. Like turkey, it’s a tradition. But why Detroit?
For the full article, see Mark Harvey, "Gobblers and The Gridiron", Archives of Michigan, November 23, 2010.
Doug Warren, "Lions, Bears, and the First Thanksgiving", THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 25, No. 6 (2003). Reposted in the Drive by Jack Ebling, November 27, 2014.
What's Thanksgiving without a football game? Football games played on Thanksgiving Day date back to 1876, when Yale and Princeton began an annual tradition of playing each other. The University of Michigan also made it a tradition to play annual Thanksgiving games, participating in 19 such games from 1885 to 1905. The Thanksgiving Day games between Michigan and Amos Alonzo Stagg's University of Chicago Maroons in the 1890s have been cited as the true beginning of Thanksgiving Day football.
Before the final game of the 1898 season, Chicago was 9-1-1 and Michigan was 9-0; a game between the two teams in the Windy City decided the third Western Conference championship on Thanksgiving Day 114 years ago. Michigan won, 12-11, on November 24, 1898, capturing the program's first conference championship in a game that inspired student Louis Elbel to compose Michigan's fight song, "The Victors."
Hail, hail to Thanksgiving Day.
Source : Bill Loomis, "Thanksgiving at great-great-Grandma's house", Detroit News, November 18, 2012
Mitch Albom (Bradley Whitford) has a pretty great life. He lives in Detroit and is happily married, he's an award-winning sportswriter, a must-read newspaper columnist, a screenwriter, a radio and television broadcaster. Then two men come into his life, and he realizes something's missing. Rabbi Albert Lewis (Martin Landau) presides over a thriving synagogue in a comfortable New Jersey suburb, and pastor Henry Covington (Laurence Fishburne), a recovering drug user and dealer, preaches to the poor and homeless in a crumbling Detroit inner-city church. Moving between their worlds - Christian and Jewish, African-American and white, impoverished and privileged - Albom witnesses first-hand how these two very different men not only live life, but celebrate it. What else do these two have in common? They believe there's divine spark in all of us - and that a single person can make a big difference in others' lives, as long as they have a little faith. The movie was filmed in Detroit.
For the full article, see Mitch Albom, "This film has the story -- and the spirit", Detroit Free Press, November 27, 2011.
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