Casting Out Devils

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The “Real” First Thanksgiving

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First Thanksgiving in El Paso

Commemorating First Thanksgiving, El Paso, 1598

The first celebration of Thanksgiving in America, according to the schoolbooks (if they still teach that sort of thing), occurred at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621.  According to participant Edward Winslow,

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.  They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week.  At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others.  And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers in our plenty.

However, others may argue that the “real” first Thanksgiving actually occurred in Texas in 1598.  Don Juan de Oñate, a Spanish Basque nobleman, had received a commission from Spanish King Philip II to blaze a trail north into New Mexico and claim that province for Spain.   Oñate set out in January of that year from the northern outpost of Santa Barbara with five to six hundred persons, including women and children to populate the new colony, plus 83 ox-carts and 7000 animals.  For more than four months, the expedition endured heavy rains, followed by a life-threatening shortage of water.  At one point, one of the horses was said to have simply exploded.

On April 20, the colonists reached the banks of the Rio Grande, near El Paso.  There they were rescued by friendly Manso Indians, who became their guides.  On April 30, Oñate declared a thanksgiving feast.  As part of the celebration, Franciscan missionaries performed a Mass, and Oñate laid claim to the territory in an elaborate ceremony known as “La Toma.”  Captain Marcos Fárfan enacted a play he wrote for the occasion, depicting the first conversion and baptism of Indians in Mexico.

Another member of the expedition, Gaspar Perez de Villagrá, wrote, “We were happy that our trials were over; as happy as were the passengers in the Ark when they saw the dove returning with the olive branch in his beak, bringing tidings that the deluge had subsided.”

~~Various sources

© 2009 Paul A. Hughes

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Written by biblequestion

November 25, 2010 at 2:22 AM

Posted in History

Tagged with , , , , , ,

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