Gilcrest: Pilgrams, Mexicans Own the First Thanksgiving!
In the spirit of keeping it fresh, I bring you a tale of the first Thanksgiving celebration held near El Paso, Texas, in 1598 — 23 years before the feast at Plymouth, Mass., was a twinkle in a Puritan's eye.
Our story begins with a man running for his life.
In the spring of 1598, Juan Rodriguez Nieto had a big problem — the Holy Office of the Mexican Inquisition planned to arrest and torture him for the crime of “Judaizante” — that is, being a secret Jew and spreading the “dead law of Moses.” Nieto, who owned nine horses, wisely fled Mexico City and hid in Zacatecas.
Between 1589 and 1604, the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Mexico City arrested over two-hundred suspected crypto-Jews and conversos — Mexicans Jews who had converted to Catholicism. Neighbors denounced each other for refusing to eat pork and for lighting candles on Friday after sunset. Owning a Bible meant certain death. The Catholic laity was not allowed to own a Bible. Only Jews and Protestants — both heretics in the eyes of Rome —secretly kept Bibles.