November 23, 2011

5 Little-Known Facts About the First Thanksgiving

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1. The first Thanksgiving almost happened in New York

When The Mayflower took off with 101 men, women and children on its 66-day trip across the Atlantic, the ship's ultimate destination was the land where New York City is located today. Due to some unanticipated heavy winds, the Pilgrims had to settle for settling in what would later become Massachusetts. 

2. The Native Americans didn't join the Pilgrims out of sympathy

On an early autumn day in 1621, four Pilgrims headed out into the woods, muskets-on-shoulders, in search of some food for a harvest celebration. When members of the Wampanoag tribe heard gunshots, they alerted Massasoit -- their leader -- who promptly gathered 90 warriors to go see if the Pilgrims were preparing for war. As we now know, it was a false alarm, and the Wampanoags joined the Pilgrims for their harvest celebration.

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3. There was no turkey at the first Thanksgiving

Most of the food that we today associate with Thanksgiving was not available back in 1621. Instead of eating turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, the Pilgrims and Native Americans ate shellfish, corn and roasted deer meat.
4. The Pilgrims didn't wear buckles at the first Thanksgiving  

The Pilgrims didn't wear silver buckles on their shoes and hats, nor did they dress in black, somber attire at the first Thanksgiving. Instead, they dressed in bright colors. Furthermore, despite popular depictions, the Native Americans didn't wear extravagant feathered headdresses or woven blankets at the first Thanksgiving.

5. The Pilgrims didn't call it 'Thanksgiving'

While the Pilgrims did offer thanks to God at the first Thanksgiving in 1621, they didn't call the event 'Thanksgiving.' It wouldn't be until 1623 that the first religious 'Day of Thanksgiving' would be recorded. This first Thanksgiving, however, was held in response to rainfall, not the fall harvest. Overtime, the Pilgrims' harvest celebration and 'Day of Thanksgiving' evolved into a single event. Abraham Lincoln kicked off the American tradition of an annual, national Thanksgiving in 1863.

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