NORWEGIANS TAKE SKIING SERIOUSLY !

NORWEGIANS  TAKE  SKIING  SERIOUSLY !
Skiathlon  Heroes  Recall  Norse  “Birch-leg”  Skiers  of  Old

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

For a just man falls 7 times, and rises again, but the wicked fall into calamity.  (Proverbs 24:16)

[photo credit: Business Insider]

As Norway’s Olympic skier Simen Hegstad Krüger recently (i.e., on Sunday, February 11th A.D.2018) reminded the watching world, Norwegians have a time-honored tradition as competitive and resilient snow-skiers – and a track-record as loyal teammates during times of crisis – harking back to the Birkebeiner of old.

At Alpensia Cross-Country Centre, in the men’s cross-country 15km X 15 km skiathlon competition (2018 Winter Olympics, PyeongChang, South Korea), Krüger initially slipped, fell face in the snow, breaking a ski-pole, with his fall worsened when two other skiers (Russia’s Denis Spitsov and Russia’s Adrey Larkov) promptly collided into, stumbled upon, and tangled around him. Within 15 seconds Krüger found himself, in effect, as the cross-country train’s caboose!

[photo credit: Business Insider]

But, since Viking times, Norwegians have a hardy reputation for battling the odds – and 24-year-old Krüger refused to accept this disappointing debacle as an excuse for quitting, or for reducing his best efforts to win.

SUCCESS IS NOT ABOUT NEVER FALLING, IT’S ABOUT GETTING BACK  IN THE RACE!

If you fall the day is not done;

Get up! Finish what you’ve begun !

So when you fall down,

Don’t stay on the ground!

Get back in the race — and RUN !

Astoundingly, Krüger resumed the race, from his last-place position – with Viking-like vigor reminiscent of Eric Liddell – and steadily and serially by-passed each of his 63 Olympian competitors until he had won the race, earning a Gold Medal for Norway.  Wow!

 PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — When Simen Hegstad Krueger [sic – the proper spelling is Krüger] slipped and fell on the first lap of the 30-kilometer cross-country skiathlon and found himself face down in the snow with two rivals on top of him, he figured his hopes at an Olympic medal were over.   He couldn’t have been more wrong.  “Here it is my first ever Olympic race, and it starts in the worst possible way,” said the Norwegian, who untangled his legs and his skis from the two Russian competitors he wrecked, grabbed his broken ski pole and stormed up the hill to get back in contention.

Starting from the rear, Krueger passed 63 other skiers to take the lead and win the gold medal on Sunday to cap an amazing comeback.  After Krueger crossed the line in 1 hour, 16 minutes, 20 seconds, he looked to the heavens and repeatedly pumped his fists in the air.

Norway swept the medals, with [Norway’s] Martin Johnsrud Sundby taking silver and [Norway’s] Hans Christer Holund getting bronze.  Sundby said Krueger’s return to the front of the field after crashing is an incredible testament to his perseverance. “I think we have a deserving Olympic champion,” Sundby said.  Holund said he would expect nothing more from a Norwegian skier in a sport they have dominated for years. “When you are skiing for Norway, there are a lot of guys skiing for that right (to participate in the Olympics). You should not give up, especially when you are in the Olympics,” Holund said. “It shows that Simen is a real strong guy — not just physical, but also mental.”

Just seconds after the mass start began and with skiers still bottled up in lines, Krueger appeared to slip in mid-stride and his right ski came out from under him, causing him to fall to the ground.  The two skiers directly behind him — Andrey Larkov and Denis Spitsov, Russians competing under the Olympic flag — couldn’t stop quick enough and toppled over him in a heap.

Krueger told himself he needed to stay calm. He knew he couldn’t get back the 15 seconds he lost all at once.  It would take patience to get back in the lead pack and still have some energy left at the end of the race. “I had to try to keep those (negative) thoughts away,” Kruger said. “I knew it was going to be extremely hard.”  One of the Norway coaches gave Krueger a new pole — which is legal — shortly after the crash.

Krueger steadily moved through the field and eventually took the lead with 5 kilometers remaining.

On the eighth and final lap, Krueger made what Holund called a “daring move” to pull away from the pack.  He [i.e., Krüger] succeeded with the help of Norwegian teammates, whose plan coming into the race was for a team victory — meaning protecting the leader if he tried to pull away by not letting other top medal contenders like Swiss great Dario Cologna catch up. “If Simen had a seven-second lead and I tried to catch him and Dario was able to stay with me, and then Dario and [I] caught him and Dario has the best finish — that would not look so good for us,” Sundby said. “I think we all agree the plan was good for the Norwegian team.”

[Quoting “AP” / Soobim Im, “Norwegian Skier Simen Hegstad Krueger Crashes Early, Breaks Pole, Still Wins Gold Medal”, USA TODAY SPORTS, posted at https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2018/02/11/norways-krueger-wins-gold-in-skiathlon-after-early-crash/110314870/ (2-11-AD2018); updated ‎2-12-AD2018, 6‎:‎52‎ ‎a.m.]

Martin Sundby (L), Simen Krüger (M), Hans Holund (R)
[photo credit: Westdeutsche Zeitung]

Yet the stakes were even higher – much higher in fact – when two Norwegian patriots employed their superlative skiing skills to save the life of an infant king, Håkon IV Håkonsson, son of Håkon III Sverreson, who was himself son of the Norwegian king Sverre who is lauded within Norway’s modern (albeit unofficial) national anthem, Ja Vi Elsker, as follows:

Dette landet Harald berget med sin kjemperad     [this land Harald united with his host of heroes],
dette landet Håkon verget medens Øyvind kvad     [this land Håkon protected while Øyvind sang];
Olav på det landet malte korset med sitt blod     [upon the land Olaf painted with his blood the cross],
fra dets høye Sverre talte Roma midt imot     [from its heights Sverre spoke up against Rome].

[Quoting Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s anthem, Ja, Vi Elsker Dette Landet, verse 2.]

King Sverre Sigurdsson, a descendant of Norway’s Viking kings Harald Fairhair and Harald Hardrada (as shown in a footnote, below), ruled Norway during the Viking Age’s sunset years, and was constantly engaged in a jurisdictional and theological tourney with the Church of Rome’s ecclesiastical-geopolitical imperialism, providing a foretaste of the centuries-later conflict (of Scandian-Saxon nations with the Church of Rome) that today we call the Protestant Reformation. [See, accord, Karl Jonsson, SAGA OF KING SVERRI OF NORWAY (SVERRISAGA), translated by John Sephton (London: David Nutt, 1899; reprinted 1994 by Llanerch Publishers of Felinfach), at pages 2-233, 235, 237, 239-240, & especially 241-261 (“Anecdoton Sverreri”).

NOTE: “Tusen takk” to Col. John Eidsmoe, for repeatedly educating me regarding the heroic Birkebeiner skiers.]

Throughout King Sverre’s adventurous lifetime and turbulent reign, Sverre faced a fierce and bloody conflict with the Baglers (“Hoodies”, who affiliated with the hood-wearing monks of the Roman church, often allied with Denmark). King Sverre’s opposing faction was called the Birkebeiner (“Birch-legs”), because some of them were so poor that they wrapped and tied birch-bark around their legs as protection against Norway’s snow and cold.(1)

Providentially, King Sverre had studied Christian (and Roman) theology in the school of Kirkjubøur (and in time became an ordained priest) in the Faeroe Islands, before Sverre became Norway’s king (during his 30s).

Consequently, Sverre was not easily intimidated by the theological bluffing, sophistic arguments, or bullying tactics of the Bagler faction’s ecclesiastical “authorities”.

After a long and action-packed reign (from about A.D.1184 to March 9th of A.D.1202), King Sverre was succeeded by his son Håkon III Sverreson. Yet Norway’s king Håkon III survived his father by less than 2 years, due to being treacherously poisoned by his Bagler-affiliated stepmother (dowager queen Margrete Eriksdotter, daughter of Swedish king Eric IX), dying on New Year’s Day of A.D.1204. Håkon III was thus succeeded by his 4-year-old nephew, Guttorm, a grandson of King Sverre, from January to August (of A.D.12024) — then the boy king Guttorm died suddenly, another “inside job” assassination by poison.

Before his own assassination, however, the unmarried King Håkon III Sverreson had fathered an son – also named Håkon (thus Håkon IV Håkonsson) – who was born to Inga of Varteig (Håkon III’s concubine since A.D.1203), during the spring of A.D.1204, only a few months after King Håkon III’s death by poison. Thus King Sverre’s dynasty now hung on the life of his newborn grandbaby – as the rival Bagler faction wanted that royal baby killed!(2)

To make matters worse, baby Håkon IV Håkonsson — who was not yet 2 years old! (during the winter of A.D.1205/1206) — was then in Østfold, a part of Norway controlled by the Baglers, so baby Håkon needed to be safely whisked away to territory controlled by the Birch-legs, protected by a bodyguard of Birch-leg patriots. So the Beinebeiners headed toward Nidaros (i.e., Trondheim), in hopes of finding refuge at the capital city of the new Birkebeiner-allied king, Inge II Bårdson (ruled A.D.1204—A.D.1217) — but the Birch-leg patriots’ mountainous trek was vehemently interrupted by a fierce and prolonged winter blizzard.

photo credit: THE LAST KING (Norway-produced Birkebeiner movie)

Knowing their territorial vulnerability, and with no time to waste, baby Håkon IV was entrusted to the best two skiers, Torstein Skevla and Skjervald Skrukka.

Torstein and Skjervald — through hours of blizzard snowstorms — indefatigably carried baby Håkon (for about 5 hours, during daylight hours late winter/early spring) over montane snows from Lillehammer unto Østerdalen, and presented him to King Inge II for safekeeping.  (Håkon IV eventually succeeded King Inge II, in April of A.D.1217, 11 years later).

photo credit: THE LAST KING (Norway-produced Birkebeiner movie)

Those were violent times in Norway! — notice that King Inge immediately followed the truncated reigns of King Håkon III (who ruled less than 2 years) and boy-king Guttorm (who ruled less than 4 months), both of whom intriguing insiders had assassinated by poison.

Nowadays the amazing skiing of Birch-leg heroes Torstein Skevla and Skjervald Skrukka, with baby Håkon IV, is memorialized by Norway’s annual skiing event, Birkebeinerrennet (“Birkebeiner race”), a cross-country skiathlon conducted during March – about 35 miles, with contestants carrying a 3.5-kilogram backpack (to approximate the body weight of the not-yet-2-year-old infant Håkon IV).

Norway’s commemorative Birkebeinerrennet skiing event

[photo credit: Faster Skier]

Obviously, Norwegians take their skiing quite seriously.

><> JJSJ profjjsj@aol.com

[photo credit: Leader Telegram]

Lillehammer heraldry

REFERENCES

(1) In Norwegian, “birk” = “birch”;  “bein” = “leg”.

(2) The patrilinear ancestry of Håkon IV Håkonsson traces back to Norway’s famous Viking king Harald Hardrada, and from him back to Norway’s first nationwide king, Harald Fairhair: Harald “Fairhair” begat Sigurd Haraldsson, who begat Halfdan Sigurdsson, who begat Sigurd “Syr” Halfdansson, who begat Harald “Hardrada” Sigurdsson, who begat Olaf “Kyrre” (i.e., “the Peaceful”) Haraldsson, who begat Magnus “Barefoot” Olafsson, who begat Harald “Gilli-Krist” (i.e., “Christ’s servant”) Magnusson, who begat Sigurd “Munn” (i.e., “the Mouth”) Haraldsson, who begat Sverre Sigurdsson, who begat Håkon III Sverreson, who begat Håkon IV Håkonsson [who was later known as Håkon Gamli (i.e., “the Old”) to distinguish him from his own son, Håkon V Håkonsson].  See the 2 genealogical charts on pages 235 & 237 in John Sephton’s translation of Karl Jonsson’s SAGA OF KING SVERRI OF NORWAY (SVERRISAGA), cited above.


 

 

Debut as a Christian Public Speaker: Poem Reader, A.D.1967

Debut as a Christian Public Speaker:  Poem Reader, A.D.1967    

James J. S. Johnson

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,  saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.  (Matthew 12:1-2)

Everyone must start somewhere.  As a Christian public speaker my debut opportunity was being told to read a Christmas poem, for Damascus Elementary School (which I then attended as a 6th-grader), for our school’s Christmas program.  (Since America was founded as a Christian nation, historically, it made sense that an American public school would have a Christmas program.)

To this day I own a little brown notebook that contains hand-copied and mimeographed songs from that program — including a mimeographed poem that I read to the audience that night in December  —   it was my first public speaking as a Christian (having trusted Christ as my personal Savior near the end of the previous month).

THE CHRISTMAS STORY

I will tell you a beautiful story,
One that is ever new –
Of our Savior’s birth in Bethlehem,
We all love the story, too.

The town with pilgrims was crowded
When Joseph and Mary appear,
The innkeeper cruelly told them,
“There is no room for you here.”

Nearby was a shelter for cattle –
A cave so dismal and old –
And there in a manger so humble,
The Christ-Child lay, we’re told.

Then arose that night in heaven,
A star so bright and clear,
It guided the steps of the wise men,
With their gifts both precious and dear.

There they knelt at the feet of Mary,
Humble and true and still,
To offer their tribute to Jesus,
Who bringeth us peace and good-will.

May this star send ever a tiding,
To all in this school-room here,
Of the message our Saviour has given –
Peace to all, love, and good cheer.

[Quoting Susie L. Fitz, “CHRISTMAS EXERCISE”, PRIMARY EDUCATION, 14(10):500 (December 1906).]

The above-quoted Christmas poem – a mimeographed copy of which, including some typos, I still have – I read, as carefully as I could, at Damascus Elementary School, from the stage of its multi-purpose auditorium (that also served as the lunchroom and indoor gymnasium), as part of the elementary school’s Christmas A.D.1967 program.

In God’s providence, this was my first experience as a Christian public speaker.   Thankfully, since then, God has given me many more opportunities to speak publicly for Him.

Now begins a new year — by God’s powerful providence, I trust, this new year will include more opportunities to speak for Him.  It has now been slightly more than 50 years that I have belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ, my Savior.


 

Day-After-Christmas Shopping

She perceives that her merchandise is good . . . .  (Proverbs 31:18a)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Day-After-Christmas Shopping, Starting at 6 a.m.

Go, Go, go!   —  after-Christmas sales!

Shop, shop, shop!   —   go many females;

Start early as you can,

Drag along your tired man   —

Go, go, go!   —  after-Christmas sales!

No commentary is needed for all husbands who accompanied their wives on day-after-Christmas shopping bonanzas, which (needless to say) start before sunrise.

Eat Lightly Before the Lutefisk Banquet

“Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?”

(Matthew 7:10)

It is obvious that fish is a wonderful food; it is truly good to eat.  And lutefisk is a wonderful preparation of codfish!   (So eat a light lunch, to save room for a lot of lutefisk, if you are attending an all-you-can-eat lutefisk supper!)

EAT  LIGHTLY  BEFORE  THE  LUTEFISK  BANQUET 

(by  Dr. James J. S. Johnson)

Chocolate pie, for lunch, a snack brisk;

Also, for me, tomato bisque;

   But the dining highlight,

   that we had, that night:

Was all-you-can-eat lutefisk!

lutefisk-supper-road-sign-photo-by-jjsj

Previously I have blogged about the exotic Scandinavian cuisine known as LUTEFISK.
So, to learn more about this wonderful preparation of North Atlantic codfish, see:
“Bluebirds of Happiness, Plus Enjoying a Lutefisk Banquet” [at  https://leesbird.com/2015/12/11/bluebirds-of-happiness-plus-enjoying-a-lutefisk-banquet/ ]; and
 “For the Love of Lutefisk!”  [at  https://bibleworldadventures.com/2016/09/22/for-the-love-of-lutefisk/ ]; and
“Lutefisk for Christmas:  Cod at its Best!” [at  https://rockdoveblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/lutefisk-for-christmas-cod-at-its-best/ %5D.

Bon Appétit !

 

 

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!

See https://leesbird.com/2017/04/16/happy-easter-he-is-alive/ .

This confirms that the Lord Jesus is the Scripture-prophesied Messiah (1st Corinthians 15, especially 15:3-4), Who was promised since the prophecy of “the Seed of Woman” (Genesis 3:15).  Hallelujah!

AW, SHUCKS! OYSTER FESTIVALS ARE SOMETHING TO REALLY SHUCK AND JIVE ABOUT

AW,  SHUCKS!   OYSTER  FESTIVALS  ARE  SOMETHING  TO  REALLY  SHUCK  AND  JIVE  ABOUT

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words [of Scripture] that were declared unto them.  (Nehemiah 8:12)

oyster-shucking-contestants-st-marys-festival

“Aw, shucks!” Some people actually celebrate shucks – shucking oysters, to be specific. Oyster shucking competitions are a time-honored tradition in the coastal areas surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.  [For youtube video, illustrating an oyster-shucking competition, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9u9JYA3yVs . To learn how to shuck oysters, see “Oyster 101 with Rickey Lee, the World’s Fastest Shucker”, posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qQsjyjEG2g .]

As the quote from Nehemiah (above) shows, there is a time to celebrate with food and drink — and enjoying the privilege of having God’s Word is certainly a proper occasion for celebrating.  And, if it’s available, the feasting aspect of such celebration could include the delectable mollusk we call OYSTERS!

Of course, shucking oysters (without hurting yourself) is an art that requires tactile skill, but the real fun, for most oyster enthusiasts, is in the eating, as Lara Lutz reported in September of AD2016.

The first time that George Hastings entered the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Contest in St. Mary’s County [Maryland], he didn’t win. But his bright blue eyes were set on the prize. I knew right then I’d be clearing my schedule every third weekend in October and going to St. Mary’s County”, Hastings said. “I told myself, ‘I’m coming here till I win this thing.’”

That was in 1994, and Hastings has lined up at the shucking table every year since. He won twice, first in 1999 and again in 2003, and represented the United States at the world “oyster opening” championship in Ireland. He’s become an enthusiastic ambassador for the homegrown festival that hosts the St. Mary’s contest and part of the regular crowd that travels from across the region and across the nation to enjoy comradery, competition and good food.

“It’s a family-oriented fair atmosphere, with something for everybody, young and old”, Hastings said. “And oysters, any way you like them – you’ll find them there.”

Quoting from Lara Lutz, “Keep on Shuckin’ – St. Mary’s Oyster Festival Draws Fans from Across United States”, Chesapeake Bay Journal, 26(6), September 2016 issue (BAY JOURNEYS insert), page 4.

oyster-shucking-contestant-st-marys-festival

Thankfully, the rising industry (and art) of oyster aquaculture has been replenishing the supply of oysters for America’s East Coast, especially the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica), so that oyster festivals need not worry that oyster-craving festival visitors will go away hungry and disappointed.  (Ibid.)The wild oyster populations have been seriously challenged, however, for generations now, by a vicious combination of over-harvesting (especially by dredging) and habitat pollution (especially due to untreated sewer wastes that poison estuarial waters used by filter-feeders such as oysters).

Regarding the sometimes extreme controversies involving oyster-harvesting watermen, see John R. Wennerstein’s THE OYSTER WARS OF CHESAPEAKE BAY (Washington, DC: Eastern Branch Press, 2007), which chronicles the “surf wars” (which have sometimes involved bullets and even howitzers!) over Chesapeake Bay oysterbeds.

Regarding the tragic demise of wild oysters that succumbed to inundating sewerage waste pollutants (including industrial/chemical wastes) from New York City, see Mark Kurlansky’s THE BIG OYSTER: HISTORY ON THE HALF SHELL (New York, NY: Random House, 2006).

The efforts and politics of oyster aquaculture, striving to protect the Chesapeake bay’s “white gold” populations and industry, are described in Kate Livie’s CHESAPEAKE OYSTERS: THE BAY’S FOUNDATION AND FUTURE (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2015).

st-marys-fairgrounds-map-oysterfestival-venue

Back to the National Oyster Festival in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, where they don’t intend to run out of oysters – at least not anytime soon. Lara Lutz summarizes the oyster-shucking, oyster-snacking celebrations as follows: “The National Oyster Festival in St. Mary’s County [Maryland] is an annual celebration of the Chesapeake [Bay] oyster harvest.” (Ibid.) But how did this annual tradition originate?

The 50th National Oyster Festival takes place this year [i.e., in AD2016, when Lara Lutz wrote the article being here quoted] Oct. 15-16, at the county fairground in Leonardtown [Maryland]. The annual gathering is one of the oldest [festivals] in the Chesapeake region, created and still sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lexington Park.

It was a one day event back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s [i.e., AD1960s and AD1970s]”, said David Taylor, Rotary member and former festival administrator. “At the first festival, they claimed they had 1,000 people, and it was $2 for all you can eat[!].” The festival now draws approximately 15,000 people, with more than 75 artists and nonprofit organizations showcasing displays and items for sale, including oyster prepared in just about any way possible.

There are activities for children, including small carnival rides, and a nonstop variety of live music on two stages. “It’s grown from a little festival that attracted a lot of locals to a prominent regional if not national festival”, Taylor said. Visitors and participants have come from as far as Washington state, Oregon, Colorado, Louisiana and Florida. In the ‘90s [i.e., AD1990s], an RV group from Buffalo [New York] stopped by on their way south every year.” “There’s a loyalty to it”, Taylor said. “It’s grown in size but the purpose remains the same – to celebrate the opening of oyster season in the Chesapeake Bay.”

Oysters, of course, are the main event. The festival serves up approximately 150,000 oysters each year, and the shells are used to regenerate oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay. Raw and cooked oysters abound, although seafood and other Southern Maryland specialties are on the menu too. You can purchase oysters from vendors or sample top-notch recipes during cooking contests and demonstrations. Fried oysters served by the St. Mary’s County Watermen’s Association are always popular. In the Tasting Room, which was introduced in 2015, you can sample the difference between the various farm-raised [i.e., aquaculture-produced] and wild-caught oysters that are available in St. Mary’s County. . . .

The festival is also home to the National Oyster Cook-Off, which began in 1980. Hundreds of recipes are submitted every year, but only nine are selected to compete. Professional chefs judge the results, and the crowd selects a “People’s Choice”. Submitted recipes are compiled in an annual cookbook, and this year’s festival will include a commemorative collection of grand champion recipes from each year of the cook-off.

The shucking contest includes divisions for men and women. Contestants come from across the country, and the two winners [i.e., the victorious man and the victorious woman] face off to [see who will] become the U.S. Oyster Shucking Champion. Louisiana shuckers have won five times. There’s an amateur round for those with lesser skills, and all ages get in on the action. [A lot more details about the festival follow.]

Quoting from Lara Lutz, “Keep on Shuckin’ – St. Mary’s Oyster Festival Draws Fans from Across United States”, Chesapeake Bay Journal, 26(6), September 2016 issue (BAY JOURNEYS insert), pages 4 & 12.

oysters-cooking-st-marys-festival-cookoff-contest

Ironically, the U.S. Oyster Festival in Southern Maryland is not the oldest oyster festival in the Chesapeake Bay region – because the Urbanna Oyster Festival, in Virginia, is 9 years older than the Southern Maryland oyster festival in Leonardtown. (Ibid.)

For current information on the Urbanna Oyster Festival , check out http://www.urbannaoysterfestival.com/index.php  —  a very informative website.  (In AD2017 the 60th Annual Urbanna Oyster Festival is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, November 3rd & 4th.)

For similar information on the one in Leonardtown, Maryland, see https://www.visitstmarysmd.com/events/st-marys-county-oyster-festival  and  http://usoysterfest.com/ .    The latter website summarizes the shucking contest as follows:

All oyster shucking contestants are timed. The speed of shucking 24 oysters is a key component of the contest. Presentation of the shucked oysters, however, is also very important. Seconds are deducted from the shucking time for improperly shucked oysters or those showing less than perfect presentation. Thus, the winners need to be fast, but also must pay attention to the appearance of the oysters they shuck. After judging is complete each contestant shares his or her oysters with the spectators in the stands.

(In AD2017 this event is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, October 21st and 22nd.)

Because the Urbanna Oyster Festival (in Urbanna, Virginia) is held in early November, about a half-month after the one in Leonardtown (Maryland), there is no calendar competition between the two oyster festivals. If you missed both of them – well, shucks! Maybe you can attend one in the near future. Music at these events is a mix – folk guitar, reggae, whatever – so you can shuck and jive.   ><>  JJSJ

oysters-roasted-on-dish-leonardtownoysterfestival-website-photo

PHOTO CREDITS:  oyster shucking, oysters cooking, & St. Mary’s County fairgrounds map (with event labels) adapted from https://www.visitstmarysmd.com/events/st-marys-county-oyster-festival  .


Who Supplied the Food for the First Thanksgiving?

Who Supplied the Food for the First Thanksgiving?

James J. S. Johnson

1st-thanksgiving-accurate-painting

And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without [outside], and that ye may have lack of nothing. (1st Thessalonians 4:11-12)

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (Ephesians 4:28)

Recently my happy-hearted 5-year-old grandson was taught a little Thanksgiving song, in kindergarten. It was a catchy tune, yet some lyrics contained a PC (i.e., politically corrupt) “gotcha”. The little ditty went something like this:

The Indians brought the food; the Pilgrims set up the table…

Of course, I chose not to admonish my enthusiastic grandson that the little chorus was historically twisted – revisionist “history” in song – giving the impression that the Pilgrims were just invasive “takers”, as if the Indian natives alone provided all the food eaten during the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth. But it bugged me (and it continues to bug me) that trusting kindergartners are misled into believing that it was (only) the Indian natives who provided food for that feast – with the (supposedly) generosity-challenged Pilgrim Christians providing only the banquet table!

But what is the real history of how that feast happened? Who supplied the food that was eaten, then? Was the food supply one-sided, or did both Indians and Pilgrims bring food to the “groaning-board” tables? As shown below, it was a shared meal, supplied by both Pilgrims and Indians. In fact, sharing took place in other ways, as well, such as in agriculture techniques. Indians taught Pilgrims to plant corn with fish offal; the Pilgrims taught Indians to increase their crop yields by using planting furrows. (“Win-win” mutual aid was frequent, then.)

1st-thanksgiving-pic-mikewhite

The First Thanksgiving   (Mike White)

One of the original Pilgrims, William Bradford, kept a careful chronicle of the important events at Plymouth, and he reported the context of the Pilgrim’s harvest-time during the fall of AD1621:

[During the autumn of AD1621 the Plymouth Pilgrims, with the help of Indian friends, such as Squanto and Hobbamock] found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity.

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion.

All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees).

And besides waterfowl there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.

[Quoting William Bradford, Of Plimouth Plantation 1620-1647 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989; edited by Samuel Eliot Morison), page 90.]  Other sources provide information about the many crops that were grown, and fruits that were gathered, by the Pilgrims.   [See, e.g., Barbara Rainey, THANKSGIVING: A TIME TO REMEMBER (Crossway, 2002), pages 43-44 (“In just a day enough wild turkeys, eels, grouse, lobster, partridge, and [other] shellfish were gathered to guarantee a great feast … When it was time to eat, the menu was impressive: venison, goose, lobster, eel, oysters, clam chowder, parsnips, turnips, cucumbers, onions, carrots, cabbage, beets, radishes, and dried fruit that included gooseberries, strawberries, cherries, and plums  — [some of which] fruit was cooked inside dough to make a [fruit] pie”).]  Of course, THANKSGIVING meant thanking God for all of the physical and spiritual blessings He had given, so “before they began to eat, their spiritual leader offered a prayer to God who had so clearly and miraculously led them to this place.”  {Quoting Barbara Rainey, THANKSGIVING: A TIME TO REMEMBER, page 44.]

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Yet it was another Pilgrim, Edward Winslow, who reported (within a letter dated December 11th of AD1621) on the specific activities at the Pilgrim’s historic Thanksgiving feast that season:

Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling (i.e., hunting wild birds, such as turkeys, quail, etc.), so that we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms [i.e., used their firearms for target practice], many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their [i.e., the Wampanoag tribe’s] greatest king, Massasoit with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted. And they went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our Governor and upon the Captain [Miles Standish] and others.

[Quoting Edward Winslow, in Mourt’s Relation, pages 60 et seq., as quoted by Samuel Eliot Morison in Footnote 8 on page 90 of Governor Bradford’s trusty chronicle, Of Plimouth Plantation 1620-1647 (noted above). For more about the Pilgrims’ original Thanksgiving in Plymouth, see “Strangers and Pilgrims (and the American Turkey)”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2014/11/25/strangers-and-pilgrims/ .]

Sharing is a Christian virtue – and it was the Christian Pilgrims who reached out to their Indian neighbors, and invited them to share in the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving feast. The Pilgrims knew well that the best life is not a life of selfishness. Rather, the opposite is true: it is more blessed to give than to receive. In fact, that life principle was given by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, to the apostle Paul.

Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:34-35)

Of course, it’s silly to forget – when celebrating Thanksgiving – the role of God Himself! In fact, God is the ultimate source of all of our food, regardless of which human creatures are involved (as agents) in preparing and/or delivering good food to eat.

Nevertheless He left not himself without witness, in that He did good, and He gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:17)

There you have the answer:  it was God, more than anyone else, Who supplied the food for the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth!  So, as we appreciate and enjoy the Thanksgiving season, let us keep our priorities in mind – thanking God (for Who He is and for how He has blessed us) and sharing our blessing with others.  ><>  JJSJ

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