This evening I have been pondering Thanksgiving. I have been thinking about the difference between the first two times that the members of the Plymouth Colony came together to celebrate.
I have also been doing some Thanksgiving Reading to better understand that time.
What most people do not realize is that there was a major difference between the celebration of Thanksgiving in 1621 and 1623. The celebration in 1621 was a spontaneous celebration of the first harvest and was shared with the local native population. The celebration in 1623 was much different. It was preceded by a fast day two weeks before and was a planned day for coming together and celebrating a year that they could be thankful for.
The editorial cartoon above by Frank Andrea Miller makes me think of what the passengers of the Mayflower were hunting for in America.
Today we think of them only as looking for religious freedom, but they were also hunting for economic and political freedom as well.
We sometimes look at the Plymouth colony as just being a group of Pilgrims. This is actually a term that was not even used until years later to refer to the religious component of the group. There was actually a sizable number of “strangers” that came to America with them.
Also, as I am thinking about this, I want to add that the Pilgrims were not Puritans. They had very different beliefs. The Pilgrims at this time were known as Separatists or Brownists.
First, there are no representatives from the local native population and also you see one person wearing armor who is sitting at the table.
The Thanksgiving of 1623 was for their colony and they were celebrating major changes that had been made in the colony structure that year and also the imminent arrival of supply ships that were coming from England.
One major change that had been made was that a parcel of land had been given to each family so that they could grow their own food. Instead of the many conflicts involved in the division of labor for growing food together as a colony, everyone was able to help provide for themselves and make their own decisions on how to work. The result was a large increase in food production.
There was Plenty for All … only when men were Free to work for Themselves!
The arrival of the supply ships was also very important as they were running out of many essential items.
The ships arrived the day after the 1623 Thanksgiving and perhaps this is the origin of our culture of shopping on the day of Thanksgiving 🙂
I am sure that the colonists were all thankful for the many supplies and tools that arrived on the ship. Also, many of them had friends or family who had arrived on the two ships.
I also had ancestors that arrived on the ships. See my post Pilgrim Ancestry for more details. I also plan on writing more about them soon.
What are you thankful for this year?