A very happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo was thinking a bit about this most peculiar of American holidays, more specifically about its origins.

By now, of course, the myth that the Puritans at Plymouth celebrated the “first” Thanksgiving in America, in 1621, has been well exploded as nothing more than a piece of Yankee propaganda.  Records make plain that celebrations of thanksgiving were held in the spring of 1610 at Jamestown and on December 4, 1619 at Berkeley Hundred, both in the great Commonwealth of Virginny.

And if you want to go even further, the founding of Quebec under Champlain in 1608 was also celebrated with a thanksgiving.   The Englishman Martin Frobisher, searching for the Northwest Passage, celebrated one in1578, which the Canadians now claim as the first Canadian thanksgiving.  As Christine notes, the Spanish held a thanksgiving at St. Augustine, Florida in September, 1565.  In fact, a group of French Huguenot colonists under Jean Ribault beat them to it, celebrating one just to the north at the St. John River on June 30, 1564, not long before the Spanish descended on them with fire and sword.  And Coronado is recorded to have celebrated a thanksgiving in May 1541 at the Palo Duro canyon in north Texas.

So you’ve got a wide variety of “firsts” from which to choose, depending on your preferences in religion, national origin and geography.

Some other time, I may ponder more thoroughly these “first wave” immigrants, although I’d have to say it isn’t necessarily a very pleasant exercise.   The vast majority of people who were willing to embark on what was then an extremely risky sea adventure for the purpose of coming to an almost completely unknown new shore were either rapacious, desperate or insane, often some combination thereof.  (No, ol’ Robbo isn’t suddenly going all p.c. on you.  But it was a brutal time and place.  Frontiers always are.)

But just look where we are today.   Thanksgiving is the least commercialized, the least bowdlerized, the least cheapened holiday on the entire calendar, remaining mighty close to its roots in simple gratitude and festivity for what we have and who we have.  Granted, this is probably because it sits in the shadows of the monstrosities of modern Halloween and Christmas, but it’s still pretty nice for all that.

(Image filched from Mrs. P.)