While on vacation a couple of months ago, I visited Berkeley Plantation, in Virginia. The tour guide happened to tell us that this plantation was the place where the first real Thanksgiving took place.
Having come from Massachusetts, where every school child goes on a field trip to Plymouth Rock and Plymouth Plantation, I thought the the tour guide was committing blasphemy.
Berkeley Plantation's claim to being the First Thanksgiving seems silly. The claim lies in the fact that when the settlers first landed, they prayed.
Oh for gosh sakes! That's a universal common reaction!!!!! After 4 months on a teeny wooden ship, the second I spotted land, I would have prayed "Oh thank God!!!!!!!!", never mind when my foot touched solid ground. Then, I would have KISSED the ground, a la Pope John Paul II.
However, that being said, the story did pique my interest. If Berkeley's claim to the First Thanksgiving was the mere fact of historical dates (Berkeley 1619 and the Pilgrim's touched Plymouth Rock in 1620) then I'm sure the Spanish must have had a Mass of Thanksgiving someplace, somewhere, along their meanderings. So maybe the First Thanksgiving belongs not to the English, but to Spanish. Not only that, but maybe the First Thanksgiving belongs to the Catholics, not the English Protestants! Ha! Take that, anti-Catholic slanted, English Protestant slanted, American history books!
My hunch proved right on!!!!!!!!!!!
St. Augustine, Florida was settled before the English even bought their tickets. And of course their priest celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving.
And even before that, the Spanish in New Mexico and Texas celebrated lots of Masses of Thanksgiving.
Also, we're not even considering the Native Indians thanks to the Great Spirit, we know as God.
Even so, with all that taken into consideration, I still contend that the First Thanksgiving, where people sat down together with invited guests, and ate TURKEY (among some other gross stuff), and with the expressed purpose to give thanks to Him, Who is the source of the blessings, was at Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts.
The Pilgrims were impressed with the idea of sitting down at a special designated feast to honor God, (while they were cooling their heels, awaiting passage to come over here), in Leiden, Holland. See this site.
That's where they may have been inspired.
Another interesting story is told by Father Gordon McRae on his blog, Within These Stonewalls. Squanto (Who graces the shield of the state of Massachusetts) plays a prominent role.
Deo Gratias!!!!!!!!!! And that's what's important!