Thanksgiving in the USA is a traditional national holiday, celebrated by American families since the year 1863. This will be our very first Thanksgiving in the US, and we are so excited to celebrate it together with some dear friends this week.
Since I love learning about how things first came about, I found out some interesting facts about how this holiday first began, and I wanted to share them with you. History tells how a ship called the Mayflower, filled with English families who were desperate to start a new life, in a new land, dropped anchor at Cape Cod in September of 1620. Many of these families left their homes and all things familiar, to escape religious persecution. They gave up everything for the freedom to serve and worship their God as their hearts longed to. When they landed at Cape Cod, they realised they were too far north from where they had intended to be. So, they sailed on, and about a month later, crossed the Massachusetts Bay, and arrived at Plymouth. Sadly, they were not prepared for the cruel, harsh winter ahead of them, and not many survived the cold, the scurvy, and the hunger.
But everything changed the very next spring, when two native Indians befriended the survivors, and taught them how to cultivate the land, and grow crops that would nourish them. They also introduced them to the local tribe of Wampanoag Indians, who helped in all manner of ways to respectfully ‘tame’ the land and cause it to flourish for their survival. That very next autumn, in 1621, those early Plymouth colonists, together with their Wampanoag friends, celebrated their very first Autumn Harvest, Thanksgiving feast! It lasted three days, and made such an impression on the colonists that they decided to make it an annual event!
For years, the different colonies celebrated Thanksgiving at different times, until the year of 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, where President Abraham Lincoln, declared it a national holiday to be celebrated every November. And so the tradition continues, families across the continent celebrate this holiday together, apparently, many using it as an opportunity to be thankful for each other and the life of freedom they are able to enjoy in their great nation.
Ironically, one of the native Indians that first befriended those early colonists, helped them, and introduced them to the Wampanoag tribe, spoke English. That’s because years before, he had been captured, sold into slavery and taken to England, where he learnt to survive in that harsh land, and speak the language that was so foreign to him. Now, that very same land and language belonged to the people who were at his mercy. Yet he didn’t hesitate to act in kindness and selflessly share all he knew to help them make their home in their newfound land of freedom.
No matter which country we live in, there is always a reason for us to grateful. And who’s to say that our one act of kindness towards someone else, could be the very thing that opens up a world of freedom and opportunity for them.