As the West celebrates Thanksgiving Day (the last Thursday in November – November 25 this year), we know the history and features of that exemplary day celebration.
A.D. 1620. The Mayflower, a small ship carrying 102 Protestant sailors and about 30 crew, set sail from Plymouth, England, on the Hudson River in New York. The aim of the expedition was to discover new places and establish colonies and to practice the faith freely. The ship anchored on the shores of the Hudson River and anchored in Boston, Massachusetts, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. They had to stay on board for a long time due to the resistance from the native Red Indians and the extreme cold.
Famine and pestilence followed them; More than half left the world. Slowly they began to adapt to that different environment. The Red Indians taught them to cultivate, fish and hunt. The next year they got a big harvest. In this way, they were able to store food for the winter. Only happiness and peace everywhere. They gathered with the Red Indians to thank God for this blessing.
They also prepared a rich feast on that occasion. The dishes included farm produce and fish as well as hunted meat. History has it that the fourth Thursday in November is the beginning of the ‘Thanksgiving’ celebration of the American people. This place was later known as the Plymouth Colony. Centuries later, when President Abraham Lincoln became President, ‘Thanksgiving’ became a national holiday.
However, before these pilgrims from England, in 1598, at the behest of King Philip II, the brave, valiant, and faithful Spaniard Don Juan Onat set out to find new places, form colonies, and spread the Catholic faith. The group of about 600 people left Mexico. Among them were Franciscan priests.
During these arduous and adventurous journeys, they continued to glorify God. The months-long voyage arrived in New Mexico, west of Texas. Their happiness knew no bounds. They thanked God by offering divine sacrifices and circling in the name of God. The aboriginal Pueblo Indians were also present at the sumptuous feast prepared after this. It was then that they first heard about the Catholic faith and baptism. Many of them were baptized and became part of the Catholic Church.
Although the group led by Don Juan Onatho celebrated ‘Thanksgiving’ in New Mexico 23 years earlier than the pilgrims from England, Onatte’s ‘Catholic Thanksgiving’ lost its popularity because New Mexico was not part of the United States until the 19th century.
Let us celebrate and give thanks
We, the Malayalees who came here from India and other countries in search of new pastures, are not much different from the pilgrims who came to America in 1598 under the leadership of Don Juan Onatte and in the ship ‘May Flower’ in 1620. We also had to deal with different cultures, languages, dress, food and climate. God has not forsaken us either. Are not the blessings that God has bestowed upon us in the last days innumerable?
We have got many churches and priests to preserve the traditional faith and style of the Malayalee Catholics. Moreover, we should be thankful for the arrangements God is making to immerse our new generation in faith. Religious classes, spiritual organizations, meditations for spiritual growth, clergy, laity, and clergy from our own community
God is pouring out countless blessings on us. Above all, we can offer bouquets of thanks to God for bringing us to a land of religious freedom.
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