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The First Thanksgiving was in St. Augustine, FL

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all the good things in our lives. It’s a time to give back and share, a time to remember what we have and to be grateful. It’s also a holiday that many still think occurred at Plymouth, MA. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the first Thanksgiving happened in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565.

The Importance of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday that should be celebrated by all Americans every year. It is an important time for those who are Native American to teach the younger generations about the real history behind the holiday. This is not a celebration of the Pilgrims coming to America. This is a time to remember the people who have been here since long before the Pilgrims. In fact, the “Pilgrims” (the actual settlers) arrived in Plymouth, MA, a full decade after Thanksgiving was celebrated in St. Augustine.

The first Thanksgiving was not celebrated on a specific day in November. They weren’t even sure it would be a holiday at all. They settled down in an area of land and waited for fall to begin. Once winter came around, they knew it was time to harvest the local food. But the earliest festival of this kind is accredited to the Spaniards in Florida.

Happy Thanksgiving message handwritten in calligraphic script on smooth sand beach

Why History Places the First Thanksgiving In Florida

St. Augustine is now the oldest city in the United States and was established in 1565 by Spain. It was here that the Spanish government dispatched Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles (Don Pedro De Menendez de Aviles) to discover if the Carolina islands had been mapped yet.

The king gave him a sword and a poncho and asked him to bring back the best resources. This he did, and even when an English privateer blew up his ship in the St. Mary’s River, he managed to navigate to the Colony of Carolina. There he defeated the English in battle and moved on to the Spanish Colony of St. Augustine.

The Spanish were the first Europeans to plant crops in the southern part of what would become the United States. The Spaniards called the area El Florido or the Sunshine Coast. It was also home to the first Indian settlements in Florida.

On 8th September 1565, when Pedro and 800 Spanish troops docked on the shores of St. Augustine, they celebrated Thanksgiving with Mass and a meal. Guests were invited, including the Seloy tribe, one of the native inhabitants of Florida. The mass was celebrated by Father  Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, with feast day being calendared in the church as the day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

History of St Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine is one of the oldest cities in the United States, but it’s older than most people think. As noted by “Although the first European settlement in what became the United States is believed to have been the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine, Fla., dated to 1565, no Europeans had a permanent settlement at the location of the City of St. Augustine for the first 150 years of Spanish colonial rule.”

The first recorded land sale occurred on 1st June 1697, with the exchange of about 2 acres for a house and land on the western bank of the St. Augustine Inlet. The land was not purchased to establish a permanent town but for its availability for shipyards. The former Indian village, Turbot’s Village, became the centerpiece of the now-famous city.

Shops and inns line St George in Florida

How To Celebrate Properly on Thursday, 25th November

Many families have to work or have places they need to be. However, just because you are not off work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some time to be thankful for all the good things in your life. If you have Thanksgiving off, then celebrate with your family. Or, if you are fortunate enough to be home with your children, then you can celebrate with them. Either way, make sure to celebrate something special with your loved ones.

St. Augustine offers many things to do with plenty of historical landmarks, museums, and galleries. From world-class restaurants with amazing views of the water that showcase some of the best seafood in Florida to historic forts that will teach you what life was like in the 1800s, there is something for everyone with an old soul in this city.

Because the weather has gotten colder, it’s a great time to take the family to an indoor or outdoor place, like theme parks. Marineland, Jacksonville Zoo, and the Alligator Farm Park are some of the top recommendations around St. Augustin, FL.


St. Augustine is home to many historic sites, family attractions, world-class golf courses, award-winning beaches, fine dining, marine life adventures, deep-sea fishing opportunities, and many more things to do! And now, if you are looking to celebrate Thanksgiving like the earliest pilgrims, this old city is the place to be. Thanks for reading!

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