Florida Site of Very First US Christmas Celebration

tony leather By tony leather, 15th Dec 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2s79an_m/
Posted in Wikinut>News>Environment

It was in this ancient Florida town that the Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernando de Soto settled into a winter encampment in 1539-40, having arrived eight months before Christmas, in May 1539.

Florida Site of Very First US Christmas Celebration



In the USA, you might be surprised to learn that Christmas was first celebrated near Tallahassee in 1539, a region known for sunny weather, so white Christmas was certainly not on the cards there, nor was it in any sense a very festive celebration, with no Christmas trees or presents, but simply religious observance of a Christmas mass by European invaders.

It was in this ancient Florida town that the Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernando de Soto settled into a winter encampment in 1539-40, having arrived eight months before Christmas, in May 1539.

At that time, de Soto landed over 620 men and 220 horses, spread over a 9-ship flotilla, at what today is known as Shaw's Point in Bradenton, which he named EspĂ­ritu Santo - Holy Spirit -Those ships carrying priests, craftsmen, engineers, farmers, and merchants; some with their families.

Most were European and African, and few had travelled before, but the women of some of the families would have been those who prepared the food served on Christmas Day - pig bones were found during the archaeological excavations - which meant that pork was likely on the menu of the first Christmas celebrants.

The meal probably also included plenty of local vegetables, fruits and seafood and possibly turkey, and archaeologists digging at the site found artifacts including chain mail and armour, as well as coins and pottery.

It is believed that de Soto would have recruited local Native American tribesmen as guides during his time in the U.S. - Tallahassee was home to the Apalachee tribe, though an 18th century war nearly wiped them out, but some fled to Alabama and Louisiana, where they still survive today.

Mission San Luis in Tallahassee is the most amazing remnant of those times, as first permanent buildings were erected in 1633, some still today housing descendants of the original Native Americans.Over a 75 year period, more than 1,500 Apalachee Indians and Spanish colonists lived together at this site.

Florida will, during the state's 500th anniversary of Spain's arrival in 2013, celebrate this period, Mission San Luis hosting a First Christmas in La Florida event, when visitors can celebrate Christmas as Hernando de Soto likely did, re-enacting of the winter encampment and Christmas mass.

Tags

Celebration, Christmas, First, Florida, History, Usa

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author avatar tony leather
mainly non-fiction articles, though I do write short stories, poetry and descriptive prose as well. Have been writing for over ten years now

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