No one can argue that American Thanksgiving is a complex weave of spiritual, historical and cultural elements resulting in a national identity with profound significance.
These insights are based on the book THE FIRST THANKSGIVING by Robert Tracy McKenzie, Inter Varsity Press Academic, 2013.
Ours is a “present tense society” … important to be inspired by true facts of past … “historical ignorance leaves us vulnerable” … “we have chosen the Pilgrims as our honorary ancestors” (American and Christian).
- Pilgrim/Mayflower/Plymouth thanksgiving tradition was not “First Thanksgiving” … More accurate label is “First American Protestant Thanksgiving North of Virginia and South of Maine”
- Algonquin Indians participated in regular ceremonies linked to the crop cycle
- Spanish held a Thanksgiving mass in St. Augustine Florida in 1565 (only two of the Pilgrims were even born)
- Spanish held a Thanksgiving with Manso Indians near El Paso in 1598
- French Huguenots celebrated Thanksgiving in 1564 near Jacksonville Florida
- English colonialists on Maine coast in 1607 and in Virginia in 1610 & 1619
My observations: We as Christians must get history right. Accurate, reliable history is integral to the Christian faith. American Christians make a ‘big deal’ about the roots of this holiday, so it is essential to set the record straight and draw helpful insights with appropriate lessons. Those will come in subsequent posts.