The summer of 1621 was plentiful for the Pilgrims thanks to the God in whom they trusted and their Indian friends, Squanto and the Wampanoags. In fall of that year the harvest provided more than enough crops to get them through the next winter, so Governor Bradford declared a day of public Thanksgiving, to be held in October. Chief of the Wampanoags, Massasoit, was invited.
The Pilgrims were surprised, and a bit disheartened, when not only did Massasoit show up a whole day early, but he brought with him ninety braves! The Pilgrims wondered how they were to feed so many mouths! Would they have to dip into the stores they had saved for winter? But God had provided, of course. The Indians had brought their own contribution to the feasting – five dressed deer, and more than a dozen fat wild turkeys! They also helped in the preparation. The Indians taught the Pilgrims how to make hoecakes from cornmeal and maple syrup and how to roast corn kernels until they sizzled and popped into little white balls… popcorn! Vegetables a plenty were brought from the Pilgrim’s garden. Dried fruit was served and some was used to make fruit pies, now a learning opportunity for the Indians. And wine was made with the plump grapes found in the land.
They played feasted, played games, and built a relationship of trust and friendship. But most of all they gave thanks to God.
What a year it had been for these English pilgrims. They had left their homeland in search of religious freedom, landed safely in the New World only to nearly half their manpower to illness and starvation, found friendship in neighboring native tribes, and now here they were giving thanks for the great provision God had provided.
But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off” ; fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:8-10