First Latino Thanksgiving

On September 1620, a ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, with 102 passengers. In 1620, some of the pilgrims left in search of a new home where they could practice their faith and others left to a New World where they were promised land ownership. Once they crossed the Massachusetts Bay, the civilians, or Pilgrims, as we know them now, began to establish a village at Plymouth. In November 1621, a year later, the Pilgrims proved their first corn harvest successful and their Governor organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the colony’s Native American allies. And that is now known as Americans “First Thanksgiving”… Or so we think.

These settlers were thought to have been the original group to celebrate Thanksgiving, but some historians have discovered another Thanksgiving celebration that happened decades earlier. Even though the United States celebrates Thanksgiving in November, a new Thanksgiving tradition has grown in Texas. El Paso residents have now claimed the first Thanksgiving in North America. The event, first celebrated in April 1989, commemorates a day of thanksgiving celebrated by the Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate and his expedition on April 30th, 1598.

Oñate’s expedition consisted of 500 people crossing the Chihuahuan Desert from Zacatecas, Mexico. After going through many consecutive rainy days, then changing to an incredibly dry weather where the sight of water was far from their reach, they arrived to the Rio Grande, their salvation. And finally after ten days trying to get back on their feet, Oñate ordered a day of Thanksgiving for the survival of the expedition.

Proving that the official First Thanksgiving was actually discovered by Hispanics.

“I didn’t know that, I am incredibly proud of roots. This goes to prove that we, as Hispanics, are much more than we are given credit  for and that we are constantly learning something new,” says Ariadne, age 23.

“During Thanksgiving week, in November, I get to go home with my family and spend time with them. It’s a tradition to make turkey and pumpkin pie. I’m thankful for the times I get to spend with my family” says Danielle, 18.

While many Latinos celebrate the traditional Thanksgiving of the pilgrims, it is also important to remember the long heritage of Hispanics in America. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving in November with the Pilgrims or in April with the survivors. It is always good to be proud of where you come from, of your roots, and of the history.  These ancestors paved the way in order for you to be where you are right now. And let’s not forget to be thankful for the things that make us.


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