Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Day -- St Augustine, Florida -- 1565

It was a traditional Latin Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Augustine in 1565, 55 Years before the Pilgrims Landed at Plymouth Rock. History books have long portrayed images of the US's first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with Pilgrims, dressed in black and white, sharing turkey with American Indians. (It should be noted that the Pilgrims, who came to America to escape religious persecution from the Anglicans, were themselves the perpetrators of religious persecution. When they had been in power, they had gone around the English countryside destroying Anglican altars and liturgical accoutrements because the Anglican Church was too "papish" for them. No wonder they were "persecuted.")


To the contrary, the research of Michael Gannon, an expert on Florida colonial history and professor of history at the University of Florida, over twenty years ago revealed that St. Augustine, the US's oldest city, was the site of the first Thanksgiving. This first Thanksgiving took place in 1565, 55 years before the Pilgrims landed, when the Spanish founder of St. Augustine, Pedro Menindez de Avilis,
and 800 Spanish settlers shared in a Mass of Thanksgiving.


Following the Mass, Menindez ordered a communal meal to be shared by the Spaniards and the Seloy Indians who occupied the landing site. Prof. Gannon, in his book, The Cross in the Sand, states that the nation's first Thanksgiving menu would most likely have consisted of what the Spanish settlers had with them during their voyage: cocido, a stew made from salted pork and garbanzo beans laced with garlic
seasoning, hard sea biscuits, and red wine. If the Seloy natives contributed to the meal, the table would have seen wild turkey, venison, gopher-tortoise, mullet, corn, beans, and squash.[PRNewswire]


Thanks to Christopher Zehnder who sent this along a few days ago via Cælum et Terra. He also notes "You'll also find it in Bishop Arias' book "Spanish Roots of America" soon to be published by Loreto Publications.