Happy Thanksgiving — The evolution of Thanksgiving

December 4, 1619. 38 Brits got together in Charles Cittie. Captain John Woodleaf spake,

“Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty god.”

Wahunsenacawhk , Matoaka, and John Rolfe

They had reason to give thanks after rocky relations with the natives started to calm down. Previously, after Chief Wahunsenacawh‘s daughter Matoaka (nicknamed Pocahontas) married John Rolfe, relations between the two peoples had improved. In the spring, however, new leader Opechancanough‘s adviser and famed warrior/magician Nemattanew (derided as Jack of Feathers by the English for his feathered costume) was murdered by two Englishman disproving Nemattanew’s claim that a magic oil made him immune to gunfire.


In revenge for the murder, the Powhatan Confederacy attacked the English, killing 347 (or roughly a third of the colonists) and taking 20 women as hostages. Opechancanough mistakenly thought the English would accept defeat and leave. Instead they retaliated and the Powhatan decided to negotiate. At what was meant to be a peace ceremony, the English (led by Captain William Tucker) served the Powhatan poisoned liquor (prepared by Dr. John Potts) which immediately killed about 200 of them whilst 50 more were killed by hand. Opechancanough escaped.

Meanwhile, over in New Plimoth (as it used to be spelled), a group of separatists from England who’d realized that the only reformation of the Church of England was the amendment allowing the King a divorce had hit the seas. They broke relations with their homeland and set out for a New World. The winter was hard, as we learned in school, and the colonists were in danger of starvation. Of the 102 passengers, roughly half died the first winter.


    An Abenaki in trad dress (flanked by S1W) and Edward Winslow

Their first contact with the locals was an Abenaki man named Samoset who surprised them by walking into their encampment and asking (no joke), in English, “Got any beers?” The colony governor Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that they had no beer but that they gave him, “water and biscuit, and butter, and cheese, and pudding, and a piece of mallard, all which he liked well.” Two days later he came back with a Patuxet Wampanoag man named Tisquantum (aka Squanto). He spoke English as he’d been twice kidnapped and sold into slavery by the English. The first time he was invited onto a boat by Captain Thomas Hunt and sold to some Spanish monks. Getting captured again tells us that the Wampanoag had no equivalent of the expression “Once bitten, twice shy.” When he got back to America he found his family and village had died from disease. He showed the Pilgrims how to grow corn, squash, beans and fish for eel.


                                                Squanto                                                                                      Massasoit

The indigenous 12,000 strong Wampanoag, led by Massasoit, signed a treaty with the Pilgrims hoping for protection from attacking Micmac and Narrangansett whom they were more vulnerable to after suffering from a disease epidemic. Edward Winslow said that they feasted for 4 days and the only mention of particular foods was of deer and wild fowl.


 His apron has an all-seeing eye               A map of Washington DC showing streets organized satanically

In 1789, Freemason George Washington recommended, “…to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be blah blah blah.”

So how did today become a day where we sacrifice 50 million genetically monstrous, hormone- injected, artificially-inseminated Frankenturkies and serve their martyred corpses alongside the now canonical mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing, biscuits, green bean casserole, mac ‘n’ cheese, collard greens and sweet potato, pecan and pumpkin pies? And don’t forget that there’s always some football game is on, lulling drunken family members to sleep on living room floors in front of roaring fires. Maybe you even sing Adrianus Valerius‘ 1597 hit “We Gather Together” or Lydia Child‘s 1844 jam “Over the River and Through the Woods” or “Jingle Bells,” which though widely associated with Christmas, was written for Thanksgiving. Put that in your calumet and smoke it!

Suggested  Thanksgiving viewing:

Alice's Restaurant Film Poster  All You Need  An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving

Avalon (Movie Poster)  A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Daytrippers (movie poster)

Hannah & Her Sisters Film Poster Pieces of April  What's Cooking? Poster

The Holiday Treasure VHS  Home for the Holidays  Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Scent of a Woman  Home Sweet Home  The Special Night James Garner

The Myth of Fingerprints movie poster  Dutch movie poster Ed O'Neill Pants on Fire

War at Home  Four Brothers  Breathing Room

Blood Rage movie poster

WARNING! The following mock-trailer contains partial nudity, depictions of sex acts and gory violence:


Here’s Blood Rage, in full…


Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Click here to offer financial support and thank you!

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