by Super Admin
on Tuesday, November 10th, 2020 at 10:02am.
There’s no holiday that’s more quintessentially American than Thanksgiving. Learn how it has evolved from its religious roots as Spanish and English days of feasting and prayer to become the football-watching, parade-marching, gut-stuffing event it is today.
1541: Spanish Explorers Hold a Feast
English settlers weren’t the first to celebrate a thanksgiving feast on American soil. According to the Texas Society Daughters of the American Colonists, the very first thanksgiving was observed by Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. Accompanied by 1,500 men in full armor, Coronado left Mexico City in 1540 and marched north in search of gold. As the company camped in Palo Duro Canyon in 1541, Padre Fray Juan de Padilla called for a feast of prayer and thanksgiving, beating out the Plymouth Thanksgiving by 79 years.
1598: A Second Early Feast Among Spanish
A second Texas town claims to have been the real site of the first Thanksgiving in America. In 1598, a wealthy Spanish dignitary named Juan de Oñate was granted lands among the Pueblo Indians in the American Southwest. He decided to blaze a new path directly across the Chihuahua Desert to reach the Rio Grande. Oñate’s party of 500 soldiers, women and children barely survived the harrowing journey, nearly dying of thirst and exhaustion when they reached the river. (Two horses reportedly drank so much water that their stomachs burst.)
After 10 days of rest and recuperation near modern-day San Elizario, Texas, Oñate ordered a feast of thanksgiving, which one of his men described in his journal: "We built a great bonfire and roasted the meat and fish, and then all sat down to a repast the like of which we had never enjoyed before…We were happy that our trials were over; as happy as were the passengers in the Ark when they saw the dove returning with the olive branch in his beak, bringing tidings that the deluge had subsided."