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A History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday and Christian celebration, where God has brought many together and guided them through difficult times. The History of Thanksgiving reveals God’s love for us and the power of faith, family and friendship.

The Pilgrims and their Faith

In 1608, a group of British Separatists fled to Holland to pursue religious freedom. While they were free there, a culture of secularism threatened the values they had instilled in their children.

So in 1620, they left for America. When Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts, they faced a brutal, cold winter. Despite these conditions, they kept their faith and stayed in North America. When given the opportunity to return on the Mayflower and face religious persecution back in England, which they fled for religious freedom, they trusted God and remained in Cape Cod. In Spring, their tough fortunes were soon to change.

Native Americans & Squanto

In 1614, Europeans captured a number of Native Americans to be sold into slavery in Europe. One of those captured, known as Squanto, was later freed in Spain, taught Spanish, and joined the Church.

Upon Squanto’s return to Massachusetts in 1619, he found his Native tribe had been wiped out by an epidemic, so he made his home with a new tribe, the Wampanoag. Come the Spring of 1620, Squanto and the Wampanoag helped the Pilgrims who had just endured the gruesome winter.

Thanksgiving to God

With the help of their Christian brother Squanto, the Pilgrims learned to grow crops, hunt, and sustain themselves. The Pilgrim’s Governor, William Bradford, declared Squanto “a special instrument sent of God for good beyond our expectations."

When the Pilgrim’s Spring harvest was a success, Governor Bradford proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to God. Squanto and the Wampanoag’s joined the Pilgrim’s in celebration, bringing turkeys and venison for all. The Pilgrims and Native Americans joined to play games and feast, and all had much to be thankful for.


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