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Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

Posted by Sarah Palin Web Brigade on November 24, 2011

Our celebration of Thanksgiving dates back to 1621, when the 52 Mayflower survivors joined with about 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe,  including Chief  Massasoit,  in a feast of celebration. This was the Plymouth colonists’  first harvest after a very rough winter, in which half of those who had originally boarded the Mayflower had died.   There were 3 days of feasting and sports, which were described by William Bradford and Edward Winslow.  The original reports tell us that the Wampanoag men provided 5 deer, and that the governor sent 4 men out to hunt fowl (waterfowl and wild turkeys.)  The other food mentioned in these two reports is meal from the Indian corn they had harvested, but Bradford wrote in Of Plymouth Plantation about “salad herbs”, grapes, plums, and berries (including strawberries) being plentiful in the natural environment.

Bradford speaks of a “small harvest” that year, and indeed the harvests were small until the communal system in which all the fish and game and crops were put into a common store was abolished in 1623.  As was also experienced in Jamestown a few years earlier, there was little incentive to work under these conditions.  After Bradford gave each family its own plot of land and a free market system was established, the colonists exerted far more effort, and the harvests were far more bountiful.

However, let us not forget the purpose of that first Thanksgiving feast, which was to thank God for the harvest.  Joseph Farah puts it succinctly in his article:

But it wasn’t just an economic system that allowed the Pilgrims to prosper.  It was their devotion to God and His laws. And that’s what Thanksgiving is really all about. The Pilgrims recognized that everything we have is a gift from God – even our sorrows. Their Thanksgiving tradition was established to honor God and thank Him for His blessings and His grace.

Another interesting perspective on Thanksgiving is that it may have been inspired by the Jewish festival of Sukkot:

Thanksgiving, as in giving thanks, is a very Jewish thing to do. According to tradition, Jews are to give thanks 100 times each day. We are to give thanks before we eat, for having food, and after we eat, for having been able to have food. Each morning the traditional liturgy includes thank-yous for such simple acts as standing up and having the strength to get through the day.  One more Jewish link is found in our Scripture: The initial Thanksgiving feast was probably based upon our fall thanksgiving festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles).

This year, as we face harsh economic times brought on by corruption in government and experiments in socialism, let us not forget the lessons learned by the early colonists.  And let us not forget to be thankful as the Pilgrims were for all that God has provided for us in this great land of freedom and opportunity.


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