December 2016

First Christmas in America


Let me share with you an account I found years ago. It is about
the true story of the first Christmas in the Americas. The
encounter of the Tainos*1 and Columbus as was told by Christopher
Columbus himself but reported by very few historians. In my
opinion, this is a great piece of history to share with our

"Indeed it is true that the things here are
marvelous, and so also are the great villages of this Island
Hispaniola*2... And all the people behave in a remarkable friendly

"Our Lord Willed
that at midnight, when the crew saw me lie me down to rest and
also saw that there was a dead calm and the sea was in a bowl,
they all down to sleep and left helm to a boy. The current carried
the ship (Santa Maria) upon one of these banks. Although it was
night, the sea breaking on them made so much noise that they could
be hear and seen at a 3 miles distance. The ship went upon the
bank so quietly that it was hardly noticeable. When the boy felt
the rudder ground and hear the noise of the sea, he cried
out...The master and many others jumped into the small boat, and I
assumed they were going to follow my orders. Instead, their only
thoughts were to escape to the Niña...When I saw that some of my
own crew were fleeing and that the sea was becoming more shallow
with my ship broadside to it, I did the only ting I could. I
ordered the mast cut and the ship lightened as much as possible,
to see if it could be refloated. But the water became even more
shallow, and the ship settled more and more to one side. Although
there was little or no sea, I could not save her (Santa Maria)...

On hearing the
news the King (Taino) wept, showing great sorrow at our disaster.
Then he sent all the inhabitants of the village out to the ship in
many large canoes. Thus we began to unload her (Santa Maria) and
in very short time we had cleared the decks. Such was the help
that this King gave us. After this, he himself with his brothers
and relations, did everything they could both in the ship and on
shore to arrange things for our comfort. And from time time he
sent various of his relatives to implore not to grieve, for he
would give me everything he had.

I assure your
Highnesses that nowhere in Castile would one receive such great
kindness or anything like it. He had all our possessions brought
together near his house and kept them there until some houses had
been emptied to receive them. He appointed armed men to guard them
and made them watch right through the night. I certify to your
Highnesses that in no part of Castile could things be so secure;
not even a shoe string was lost!"

(*1) Tainos is the name of the
group of Natives who welcomed Columbus

(*2) Haiti and Dominican Republic

Source: Columbus Diary, 1492

Fuson, R.H. (Ed.), The Log of Christopher Columbus, International
Marine Publisher Co., Camden, Maine, 1987

Cohen, J.M., (Ed.), Christopher Columbus, The Four Voyages,
Penguin Books Ltd., New York, New York, 1969

Landstron, B., Columbus, The Story of Don Cristobal Colon Admiral
of the Ocean and his Four Voyages Westward to the Indies, The
Macmillan Company, New York, 1967

Map of
Central America and the Caribbean Islands




Educational Material Non Co