With Thanksgiving next week, a look at the history of the holiday is in order. When Americans sit down to dinner each November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the day on which Thanksgiving would be celebrated, they do so thinking that the first Thanksgiving feast was held in Plymouth in 1621. However, according to the National Geographic, the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez Coronado and his men celebrated a feast of Thanksgiving in Texas in 1541, giving Texas the distinction of being the first place where Thanksgiving was ever celebrated!
The Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation celebrated an entirely different day of Thanksgiving in 1623. Plagued by a crop-destroying drought, the settlers prayed for relief. They even fasted! A few days later, they received rain that they so desperately needed. Soon thereafter, they received another blessing when Captain Miles Standish came with staples that they could not otherwise have obtained. He also advised them that a Dutch supply ship was en route. In gratitude for the abundance of these blessings, the Plymouth settlers celebrated a day of prayer and Thanksgiving on June 20, 1623.
Surviving journals from that time indicated that their first Thanksgiving feast was not quite like what Americans eat today. The meal consisted of venison, various types of wild fowl (including wild turkey), and Indian corn. There were no cranberries, stuffing, pumpkin pie, potatoes, or any of the other "traditional" foods that appear on modern menus.
Today, Thanksgiving is still a day of feasting, and for some, a day of prayer and thanksgiving. For others, it is a celebration of gathering, especially for families. Still others celebrate in entirely different ways, including watching college football games, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, or by playing family games.
No matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving, may we never forget the true blessings, like healthy teeth to enjoy the Holiday's great food, that God has given to each one of us!