Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The First Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We'll exchange the blueberry muffins for: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and minced or pumpkin pie.

DO YOU KNOW; The settlers ate deer, shellfish, corn and other roasted meats. Turkey (I believe) was NOT on the menu.

The pilgrims, who did not call themselves pilgrims, led by William Bradford, travelled 6000 miles on the Mayflower in the early 1620's.

These English Protestants left the Church of England and fled to Holland where they had financial difficulties. English merchants funded their voyage to the New World. One hundred and one men, women and children set sail for 66 days bound for what is now New York. Because of foul weather, they landed in Cape Cod--well, in Southern Massachusets and Eastern Rhode Island. (Plymouth Rock, remember that from your history lessons?)

A Native American tribe, the Wampanoag's headed by Chief Massosait (you may know him as Squanto) helped the new settlers grow corn, use fish to fertilize the ground and survive in this new climate. In 1621, the two groups made a formal agreement to protect each other. Even though they had a celebration, this was not the first official Thanksgiving.

The first recorded Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth came in 1963. The settlers gave thanks because rain came after a two month drought.

DO YOU KNOW: The Pilgrims (again, THEY didn't call themselves pilgrims) didn't wear silver buckles on their shoes. Their clothes weren't black, but bright and cheerful.

Their Thanksgiving feast consisted of: deer, shellfish, corn and roasted meat. The Native Americans and settlers played games, sang and danced.

Unfortunately, the peace agreement between the Indianas and Englishmen only lasted a generation. The Wampanoag now gather in Plymouth to remember betrayal and bloodshed.

In 1846 Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Gadley's Lady's Book, campaigned for an annual day of Thanksgiving.

In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln offered two Thanksgivngs: One for the victory at the Battle of Gettysburg and the other "to give thanks for 'general blessings.'"

In 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt moved the traditional fourth Thursday up a week to give shoppers an extra week to shop for Christmas.

In 1941, President Roosevelt signed legislation making the fourth Thursday of each month the legitimate holiday of Thanksgiving.


"A New Look at Thanksgiving" by Catherine O'Neill Grace and Margaret M Bruch with Plymouth Plantation, 2001. National Geographic Society


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