21 November 2006

Queen Elizabeth had little patience for the Catholics, but even less for the Calvinists, who complained the Church of England remained too papist. In their desire to complete the Reformation and purify religion of popish trumperies, the Puritans broke from the Anglican Church, rejected the Book of Common Prayer, and preferred the anti-royalist Geneva Bible to the King James version. They instituted an independent congregationalist ideal that upheld the notion of the common priesthood of all believers, and thus granted an equal say among congregants in the election of the minister (some claim the roots of American democracy lie here). All of this naturally brought down upon them the wrath of the Crown. A number of Puritans sought refuge in Holland, where they lived in religious freedom for a dozen years, after which they chose to emigrate to America. After meeting another group of Puritans in Southampton, all boarded the Mayflower on September 16, 1620. Sixty-five days later, they sighted Cape Cod. The first Thanksgiving celebration (which lasted three days) took place in 1621 with about ninety Native Americans, and wasn't celebrated again until some years later, when in 1863 Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday.

Thus was born, for better or for worse, Thanksgiving as we know it. As all good Catholics know, eucharistia is Greek for thanksgiving--so be sure to leg it to Mass that day and pay your respects to the Giver of all good gifts.