HOUSTON – Plymouth may get props for being home to the first Thanksgiving, but other states claim to have had similar feasts prior to the Pilgrims' harvest celebration in 1621. That includes Texas – which touts a great feast back in 1598.
After a treacherous 50-day expedition that landed 500 colonists near modern-day El Paso, the group held a mass and massive meal to give thanks to God that they made it. It’s a journey still celebrated in Texas more than 400 years later.
The El Paso Mission Trail Association hosts the Thanksgiving celebration, which has been held in El Paso for over 30 years. The event retells the story of Juan de Oñate, who led a group of Spanish colonists from Mexico, to what’s now New Mexico.
The trek spanned some 50 days and included 500 colonists who ran out of food before crossing the Rio Grande in present-day El Paso.
The group arrived on April 30, 1598, commemorating their arrival with a celebratory mass and feast, thanking God for a safe arrival.
Thus, the celebration is heralded among the first Thanksgiving observances in America. The El Paso Mission Trail Association recognizes it as the first Thanksgiving celebration in the American Southwest.
In this The Eyes of Texas podcast short, we speak with Silvia Barron, a volunteer from the El Paso Mission Trail Association, about the expedition and its significance to Texas history.
More about the Thanksgiving episode:
The El Paso Mission Trail Association works to promote awareness of the trail and its history, which dates back over 400 years.