the Creator for Every Dawn
The puritans (who
did not even call themselves pilgrims) did not come here seeking religious
freedom; they already had that in Holland. They came here as part of a
commercial venture on a ridiculously small and overcrowded ship called
the Mayflower by coming to America. When they arrived in Plymouth, many
suffering from the ship-incubated scurvy disease and a very difficult
Atlantic crossing, they soon realized that they were unprepared for the
harsh winter and were facing starvation. Had it not been for the kindness
and generosity of the People of the Dawn or Wampanoag Indians, they would
not have survived. The Wampanoag and Samoset taught them to live off the
land, to hunt and find food within natures bounty.
Wampanoag fished in the fresh-water ponds and rivers for herring, trout,
perch, catfish and eels. They also fished in the saltwater ocean for cod,
tautog, pollock, bluefish, flatfish, bass, sea eels, mackerel and others.
The men even went out on whaling trips too! Women usually caught shellfish
such as oysters, soft-shelled clams, quahogs, mussels, razor clams, lobsters,
crabs, and conch. Many different kinds of nuts, berries, greens, and mushrooms
were gathered from the woods and other places. These were added to soups
and other dishes such as nasaump , a thick and filling food made of corn.
Some of these nuts and berries were eaten fresh, while others were dried
and stored for future use.
In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims had reason to celebrate. They had survived the winter and applied the lessons of the Wampanoag, resulting in a bountiful autumn harvest. The land had provided food for all and this alone was reason for a public ceremony. The first Thanksgiving in the New World was hosted by the Wampanoag in 1621. That feast was attended by 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans, but contrary to tradition, bread, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie were not served, though wild turkey might have augmented the fish, eels, clams, and venison, nuts, beans, corn, squash, and berries. The strict religious colonists were not to incline to regularly celebrate thanksgiving. Much more typical were days of prayer thanking God for blessings.
as the nation's first President, declared November 26, 1789, as a national
day of "thanksgiving and prayer." A few months after his inauguration,
Washington issued "Presidential Proclamation Number One", his
Thanksgiving as the first President. He voiced his personal conviction
that "it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence
of Almighty God." Thanksgiving as a national holiday didn't see success
until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln finally made it a national holiday with
his 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation. So it was Lincoln who resumed the
tradition. And it has continued to the present days. Probably the last
Thursday of November was set by Lincoln to somewhat correlate with the
anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod, which occurred on November 21,
1620 as per the modern Gregorian calendar. To the Pilgrims who used the
Julian calendar it was November 11.