Essays and Such

Irish Cultural Society

of San Antonio Texas


Promoting Awareness of Irish Culture

An Irish Twist

Thanksgiving's Irish Twist

In 1621, the pilgrims, just arrived in the New World, had no idea 
how wild their new frontier could be. Winter arrived and with it 
came starvation, death and the idea that maybe it was time to 
give up and go back to Europe where the strict confines of 
politics were easier to deal with than the utter randomness of 
Mother Nature.
The real story of what happened next is all but lost. On February 
20 of that same year, a ship called The Lyon arrived and delivered 
much needed provisions which helped sustain the colony. The ship 
was sent over by a Dublin merchant whose daughter was married to 
one of the pilgrims.
Grateful for their salvation, the pilgrims dubbed the following 
day, February 21, a Day of Thanksgiving.
Over 200 years later, President Lincoln decreed the day a national 
holiday and moved it to the fourth Thursday of November. The 
pilgrims' amiable relationship with the Native Americans became 
the focus of the holiday, and the true origin of the first 
Thanksgiving remained misconstrued for the next 75 years.
In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving back 
a few weeks because of its proximity to Christmas. He thought 
that providing more time between holidays would help merchants. 
The move proved very unpopular with the general public and one 
year later the date was again changed back to the fourth 
Thursday in November. Amidst the brief change, however, the 
origin of Thanksgiving was studied to validate the original date.
The Boston Post, the largest paper in New England at the time, 
took up the story in The Observant Citizen, a section of the 
paper which discussed a wide range of topics. An unsigned 
rticle appeared in this section which mentioned The Lyon as 
the ship responsible for the first Thanksgiving, but the 
writer claimed that the ship had come from England or Holland.
Irish organizations in Boston were outraged and cited 
anti-Irish bias as the reason for the paper's failure to 
mention Dublin as the true port of origin.
The writer of the article later acknowledged that he had made 
a mistake and promised to make a correction in the paper the 
following Thanksgiving. The correction was never made. Time 
quelled the public outcry, and the true origin of the first 
Thanksgiving is all but forgotten.
By John Cusack, Irish America, December/January 2006