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 The First Thanksgiving


           The spring of 1621 opened. The seed was sown in the fields. The colonists cared for it without

    watched its growth with anxiety; for well they knew that their lives depended upon a
   full harvest.

          The days of spring and summer flew by, and the autumn came. Never in Holland or England
        had the Pilgrims seen the like of the treasures bounteous Nature now spread before them. The
            woodlands were arrayed in gorgeous colors, brown, crimson, and gold, and swarmed with game
              of all kinds, that had been concealed during the summer. The little farm-plots had been blessed
       by the sunshine and showers, and now plentiful crops stood ready for the gathering. The Pilgrims,
            rejoicing, reaped the fruit of their labors, and housed it carefully for the winter. Then, filled with
     the spirit of thanksgiving, they held the first harvest-home in New England.


          For one whole week they rested from work, feasted, exercised their arms, and enjoyed various
             recreations. Many Indians visited the colony, amongst these their greatest king, Massasoit, with
            ninety of his braves. The Pilgrims entertained them for three days. And the Indians went out into
         the  woods and killed fine deer, which they brought to the colony and presented to the governor
and the captain and others. So all made merry together


And bountiful was the feast. Oysters, fish and wild turkey, Indian maize and barley bread,
            geese and ducks, venison and other savory meats, decked the board. Kettles, skillets, and spits
              were overworked, while knives and spoons, kindly assisted by fingers, made merry music on
           pewter plates. Wild grapes, "very sweete and strong," added zest to the feast. As to the
vegetables, why, the good governor describes them thus: --


"All sorts of grain which our own land doth yield,
Was hither brought, and sown in every field;
As wheat and rye, barley, oats, beans, and pease
Here all thrive and they profit from them raise;
All sorts of roots and herbs in gardens grow, --
Parsnips, carrots, turnips, or what you'll sow,
Onions, melons, cucumbers, radishes,
Skirets, beets, coleworts and fair cabbages."

         Thus a royal feast it was the Pilgrims spread that first golden autumn at Plymouth, a feast
worthy of their Indian guests.

           All slumbering discontents they smothered with common rejoicings. When the holiday was
            over, they were surely better, braver men because they had turned aside to rest awhile and be
          thankful together. So the exiles of Leyden claimed the harvests of New England.

           This festival was the bursting into life of a new conception of man's dependence on God's gifts
in Nature. It was the promise of autumnal Thanksgivings to come.


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