Greetings! It’s that time of year again when we travel over the river and through the woods. Or in my case, over the reef and through the seagrass! As we get together with family and friends and celebrate all the wonderful things we’re thankful for.
Thanksgiving – celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States is actually a national holiday. It honors the early Native Americans and settlers coming together and enjoying a wonderful harvest feast. The historic region for the site of the first Thanksgiving is known today as southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island.
This geographical region was the home of the Wampanoag people for 12,000 years and it shared the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620. Christopher Jones was the captain of the Mayflower. Jones led a group of English Protestants (the Puritans) who wanted their own religious freedom apart from the Church of England. And so she sailed…
… The Mayflower carried 101 men, women, and children as it traveled across the mighty Atlantic for some 66 days. Its original destination was New York City, however extremely windy conditions forced the ship to settle in Cape Cod, Massachusetts instead. The Puritans prepared for the upcoming winter by finding anything they could, which also included Wampanoag supplies and food.
One Wampanoag leader named Samaset, also knew English. As a result he helped the new settlers grow corn and taught them to use fish as fertilizer. Then later that fall, the Wampanoag heard gunshots in the distance. Another Wampanoag leader, Massasoit assumed the English may be preparing for war so he and 90 of his men set out to see if this was true.
They quickly found out the English were just hunting for the harvest celebration. Massasoit sent a few of his own men to hunt deer for the upcoming feast. Then for three days, the English, native men, women and children ate together. This first Thanksgiving celebration included; deer, corn, shellfish, along with roasted meat, which is very different from today’s Thanksgiving meal. The historic New England feast also had its participants playing ball games, along with singing and dancing. However the friendship of these Native Americans and settlers only lasted “one generation.” So our Thanksgiving is a reminder of betrayal and bloodshed for them. As a result, since 1970 many native people gather at the statue of Massasoit in Plymouth, Massachusetts each Thanksgiving Day to remember and honor their Wampanoag ancestors.
Now you may think of the Puritans wearing silver buckles on their shoes, along with black clothing. Guess what? They actually dressed in bright and cheerful colors with no shoe buckles! And you may call the Puritans “Pilgrims,” however the English there did not call themselves that at all.
The modern Thanksgiving as we know it actually started taking shape in the 19th century. It was the editor of a magazine titled, Godley’s Lady’s Book, Sarah Josepha Hale who campaigned for an annual national Thanksgiving holiday in 1846. However, it took until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared two Thanksgivings. The first one was in August to recognize the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, and the other in November for giving thanks to “general blessings.” And as you know, it’s this second one, which is celebrated to today with a turkey feast and of course let’s not forget a “seagrass” feast!
If you are in Florida and you see a sick or injured manatee, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: 1-888-404-FWCC. They are the folks who are responsible for rescuing us in Florida.
Here’s the Save the Manatee Club link to learn more about us manatees …
Here’s a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation …
~ Kobee Manatee