One hundred and two Pilgrims spent 66 days crossing the ocean on the Mayflower. They landed at Plymouth in November of 1620. Bitter cold soon arrived. Death came with it. Forty-seven of the 102 Pilgrims died that winter.
The turning point for the small colony occurred in mid-March 1621 when an Indian appeared at the door of their meeting house. His name was Samoset. He spoke perfect English, and told of a barbarous tribe, the Patuxets. They had been wiped out by a mysterious plague a few months prior to the Pilgrim's arrival leaving only the friendly and peacefu Wampanoags in the area.
Samoset left, but returned with one of the Patuxets--Squanto. He had been taken away from his tribe at the time of the plague, captured and taken to England and educated, captured by a slave trader, but rescued by monks. While staying with them, he accepted the Christian faith. He found his way back to the area where the Patuxets once lived, and taught the Pilgrims how to plant Indian corn which became the staple of their food supply. He also showed them how to fish and plant pumpkins among the corn.
In the fall after the harvest, the Pilgrims wanted to set aside a day to thank God for His privision and for Squanto and the friendly and helpful Wampanoags. So in October 1621, Governor Bradford declared a day of public Thanksgiving. He invited the Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoags, who arrived a day early with 90 Indians. They brought deer, wild turkeys and popcorn.
Our holiday became official in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday to be celebrated each year on the last Thursday of November.
This Thanksgiving, I hope you will take a moment ot reflect on how God has richly blessed this country and its people.