The tunes and lyrics are ringing in my ears already as I stroll the aisles of the local stores. Meanwhile, the leaves from Autumn that fall on my deck and yard remind me that plenty more of their counterparts still dwell in the tree tops awaiting their timely descent.
The holidays. Yes, that season is upon us. With that, I thought it might be fun to do a bit of a recap on how we, as a country, actually got to Thanksgiving. A bit of a light Thanksgiving History 101 if you will. But with a twist…of course. Ready? Here we go…
About 300 years after Jesus departed the planet, an interesting version of Christianity, and a very powerful religious movement was taking hold of Europe. It was called the Roman Catholic Church. I am sure you’ve heard of it. Even the British Isles, who heard the gospel early on, by about 500 A.D, were deemed “Catholic” when the Arch Bishop of Canterbury made his debut and set up shop in England. For the next thousand years, the Catholic church would rule over all of Western Civilization.
However, 1,000 years after Jesus, another man was about to make his mark in history as well. He wasn’t from the Mid-East, this man was from Iceland. His name was Leif Ericson. And was known to be the son of an outlaw and settler, and a grandson of the same as well. A man with a reputation, no doubt. At one point, Leif was introduced to the King of Norway. While there, he was also introduced to something he hadn’t quite anticipated: Christianity.
As the story goes, while playing chess with King Olaf one day, the sovereign shared with Leif how he used to also worship the same Viking gods that Leif did. He went on to explain how a horrid plague had struck Norway and that many of his loyal subjects had suddenly died. Olaf detailed to Leif how during that crises he turned away from those gods and began to worship the living Christ. The king had been baptized along with thousands of Norwegians, and then the plague stopped.
Leif, not being exactly faithful to the Norse gods, was interested by this new religion. He finally agreed to be baptized and accepted Christianity as his new faith. When he left Norway, he even asked a priest to join him with the intent of spreading the Christian faith in Greenland (Leif”s home at that particular time).
An adventurer at heart, Ericson soon set sail toward the West where he successfully found land. But it wasn’t the area we refer to as present day America. It was actually the areas of Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada). The year was about 1001 A.D.
The Vikings did indeed make it to “The New World”, but they didn’t stay long. When they arrived they noted the biggest salmon they had ever seen and the most wonderful grapes. However, even though they felt they had discovered a land flowing with “milk and honey”, they soon packed up and returned home. It wouldn’t be until much later, when a group of people who landed a bit more south, and were determined to stay, settled the land.
Like the leaves that quickly fall to the ground, as others at the tree top take a bit longer to follow, the folks that arrived at the New World first weren’t the ones who would inherit the land, so to speak. It was all about timing, and we’ll talk about that a bit more in the days to come.
Just my thoughts. And…happy holidays!