Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Believe it or not: America owes Thanksgiving Day to France!

Thanksgiving Day in June? (H/T to Mark over at SuperFrenchie's)

Kenneth C. Davis, author of “America’s Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation”, wrote an amazing Op-Ed piece in the NY Times, suggesting that a June date would be far more appropriate to commemorate the arrival of the first pilgrims to America’s shores, “After all the first European arrivals seeking religious freedom in the “New World” were French. And they beat their English counterparts by 50 years.” °

A French Connection
Published: November 25, 2008

[...] That French settlers bested the Mayflower Pilgrims may surprise Americans raised on our foundational myth, but the record is clear.

Long before the Pilgrims sailed in 1620, another group of dissident Christians sought a haven in which to worship freely. These French Calvinists, or Huguenots, hoped to escape the sectarian fighting between Catholics and Protestants that had bloodied France since 1560.

Landing in balmy Florida in June of 1564, at what a French explorer had earlier named the River of May (now the St. Johns River near Jacksonville), the French émigrés promptly held a service of “thanksgiving.” Carrying the seeds of a new colony, they also brought cannons to fortify the small, wooden enclosure they named Fort Caroline, in honor of their king, Charles IX. [...]
Full NY Times article here.
Now, let me tell you that this was a surprising discovery for me just as I think it will surprise many Europeans and Americans alike to learn that America has a lot to thank the French for, eg., not only when they helped Gen George Washington boot King George's colonial armies but also for Thanksgiving Day! (I can't wait to hear what my English side of the family will say about that!)

So, with history for a backdrop, what better way than to wish all our friends in America a Happy Thanksgiving Feast in French: Joyeux Fêtes de Remerciements a tous nos amis en Amerique!

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