Did you know that the Pilgrims celebrated the second Thanksgiving? Even President Kennedy knew that!

Being from Virginia, we take pride in our history. Every grade school child has heard the narrative concerning Thanksgiving at Plymouth. I loved making those pilgrim hats as a kid. However, what happens if our history is incorrect?

For instance, history plainly records that the first Thanksgiving was held on December 4, 1619 at the Berkeley Plantation in Virginia about a year before the pilgrims even landed at Plymouth. In fact, as Charles Miller of the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes in his article, The First Thanksgiving was in Virginia, a yearly Thanksgiving feast is held at the plantation the first Sunday in November  to re-enact the 1619 feast.

The proclamation on this day states,

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 kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.

Miller continues our re-reducation stating:

The settlers set sail in a ship called The Margaret from the Port of Bristol in England, where at the Berkeley Castle funding for the journey was supplied by landowners including Sir Richard Berkeley and William Throckmorton. Agriculture was going through difficult times and many people in the area wanted to start a new life for themselves in America, and so they joined the leaders Sir John Woodleefe, George Thorpe, and John Smyth, who had planned this remarkable and historic voyage. Although they encountered severe weather that delayed their journey, the landing on December 4, 1619, is well documented by the Virginia Company of London.

Charles Berkeley from the Berkeley Castle stressed in his speech for the 1994 Virginia First Thanksgiving Festival that “this was the first thanksgiving to be held on American soil but it was not officially recognized until President Kennedy’s term of office in the 1960s, as beforehand the Pilgrim Fathers were considered to have been the first American settlers to offer Thanksgiving. The Berkeleys in fact preceded them . . . .”

I mean, I love the pilgrims and all but let’s take a moment and tip our hats to the Virginians. Happy Thanksgiving to all to Americans. We here in Virginia are thankful that you took our lead…


Thank you to our fantastic readership! Mike at What Does Mike Think gave me a great Catholic education last night. We should be more thankful to our Catholic heritage. Virginia and Plymouth Rock stand numbers three and four respectively in establishing Thanksgiving. Who is first and second? St. Augustine, FL and El Paso TX. To read my redaction and a fuller Thanksgiving tale take a gander at Giving Thanks the Catholic Way.

Thanks again to Mike!

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4 Responses to A Virginian Thanksgiving

  1. Mike says:

    Um, actually that would be the fourth Thanksgiving, not the second.

  2. Dcn. Marques says:

    And I stand completely corrected! Thanks to Mike who has educated me on my own Catholic tradition. Thanks Mike, I needed that. Although, it still feels good to know that Virginia was ahead of Massachusettes.

  3. Pingback: The Q Continuum » Blog Archive » Giving Thanks the Catholic Way…