- Historical event:
- 16 September 1620
- The famed American tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving Day is linked to the colonists who arrived on the Mayflower. Most of the colonists were religious emigrants from Britain.
On this day in 1620 the famed Mayflower set sail, taking the mostly English colonists to the North American coast.
The Mayflower has an almost mythical significance regarding the creation of the United States of America because it has become symbolic of the arrival of the early colonists to their new homeland, and the forming of the local democratic self-government. For example, the famed American custom of celebrating Thanksgiving Day is linked to the colonists who arrived aboard the Mayflower.
It is interesting to note that most of the Mayflower colonists were religious emigrants of British origin. They were the so-called Separatists, adherents of a branch of Protestantism that did not accept some of the policies of the Church of England. There were altogether 102 colonists aboard the Mayflower. A little-known fact is that a child was born during the voyage, a boy who was for this reason named Oceanus.
After a voyage of over two months, the ship landed at the coast of the modern U.S. state of Massachusetts, near the famed Cape Cod. Much later, the Kennedys would own a house and estate near the same cape (John F. Kennedy spent some of his summers there when he was a boy).
Unfortunately, around half of the colonists died in the first winter – a terrible loss for the young colony. The 50 or so survivors built houses in a colony called Plymouth, at the end of the bay enclosed by the aforementioned Cape Cod. It is an interesting fact that around 10 million Americans can trace their ancestry to the Mayflower colonists.