Who had the first Thanksgiving? Virginia

Sad Thanksgiving is over? You can celebrate again next week.

Thanksgiving typically conjures up images of Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down for a feast at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, but many historians believe the first Thanksgiving was actually celebrated 500 miles south of there, and two years earlier, outside Jamestown, Virginia.

A group of 35 settlers left western England with plans to start a tobacco settlement for the Virginia Company of London. They and Capt. John Woodlief sailed on the 35-foot Good Ship Margaret from Bristol, England, and took two-and-a-half months to cross the Atlantic. (They were prepared, though — they had 6 tons of cider and over 5 tons of beer.)

They landed at what is now Berkeley Plantation on Dec. 4, 1619. One of the Virginia Company’s 10 rules for the trip was that they would have a religious Thanksgiving ceremony to praise God for a safe passage, and to celebrate that day annually.

It wasn’t the three-day feast that the Pilgrims enjoyed; it was a solemn and religious affair that focused on prayer and likely included fasting.

The settlers at what was then called Berkeley Hundred celebrated Thanksgiving twice more before the settlement was attacked by a nearby Powhatan tribe in March 1622.

Thanksgiving was not celebrated at the site on Dec. 4 for another 336 years. In fact, the tradition was lost until Dr. Lyon Tyler, son of President John Tyler and the retired president of William & Mary College, found documents from the Virginia Company called the Nibley Papers that described the event.

Since 1958, Virginians have gone to the site of Berkeley Hundred and celebrated the first Thanksgiving; the 400th anniversary was last year.

So, if you want to celebrate Thanksgiving again, mark your calendars for next Friday.

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