First Thanksgiving – Plymouth Rock or St. Augustine, Florida?
Conventional belief is that the first Thanksgiving was held at Plymouth Rock in 1621. Over 50 years earlier in 1565, the Spaniards settled in St. Augustine, Florida and celebrated the “First Thanksgiving” with the local Native Americans. St. Augustine has the distinction of being Our Nation’s Oldest City. Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon discovered Florida in 1513 and claimed it for the Spanish. He named it Florida after the Easter season known in Spanish as Pascua Florida. In 1564 French Huguenots were able to establish a fort in Jacksonville. King Philip II of Spain commanded Admiral Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles to conduct a fact finding mission in Florida and discovered the French intrusion and instructed him to remove them. On September 8, 1565, Menendez and his fleet landed on the feast day of St. Augustine and named the land after the saint. He removed the French and asserted Spain’s authority in Florida. St. Augustine served as both a military outpost and a base for Catholic missionary settlements.
On September 8, 1565, held a religious service as gratitude for the safe landing of the Spanish fleet. After the mass, the Chaplin of the Spanish fleet invited the natives from the Timucua tribe to eat with the settlers. If defined as giving thanks and express your gratitude by sharing a meal with native inhabitants, then this is the very first Thanksgiving meal in the United States. However, as opposed to the turkey dinner we have come to know, the Thanksgiving meal in St. Augustine was comprised of Spanish food. If tradition had been observed differently, Thanksgiving would have been a meal of salted port, garbanzo beans, bread and wine!
Regardless of the origin you choose to observe, be sure to remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving is to give Thanks. We are most thankful for our wonderful family and continued good health and happiness!
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!