Thanksgiving! An annual celebration and great feast are mostly all we remember when they hear it. However very few of us wonder when was the first Thanksgiving? When it was celebrated and why it was celebrated. Therefore, let’s set aside the grand Thanksgiving culinary and indulge a few moments on its history.
“The First Thanksgiving” as it’s called to date, is celebrated on November of 1621. There is an interesting story behind the First Thanksgiving, pilgrims sailed on a ship called the Mayflower, the ship carried 102 passengers from Plymouth, England. traditionally celebrated on the 4th Thursday in the month of November. The very first Thanksgiving started after the harvest feast that was shared by the pilgrims of Plymouth with the Wampanoag people in 1621 which makes this holiday particularly rich in legend and symbolism. The feast that is had during Thanksgiving will traditionally have Turkey and a handful of other side dishes and desserts for family and friends to enjoy. Here are some of the tastiest Thanksgiving dishes you must try!
Nature wasn’t done testing them. After the ocean waves, the winter started to bite. Not having built a settlement to protect them against the cold weather, they remained in the ship where they suffered the exposure to the weather and contagious disease. Nearly half of the “Pilgrims” now they are known as was claimed by the cold weather that year. But Nature also does provide. In March when the weather got pleasant, the Pilgrims moved back to the settlement. There, as if a Herald of Mother nature, An Abenaki Indian approaches the remaining survivors of Mayflower who were weakened by illness and malnutrition. Later Abenaki he returns with Squanto who had a history of being sold as a slave in England by a sea captain and managed to return to his homeland through an expedition. Squanto of the Pawtuxet tribe thought the Pilgrims to cultivate corns, extract the sap of maple tree, how to catch fishes from the rivers and familiarized them with poisonous plants that they shouldn’t be consuming. Squanto also introduced them to the Wampanoag tribe. On November 1621, The Pilgrims successfully had their first harvest in their new land which was named Plymouth. The Governor of Plymouth invited all their Native American allies including the Wampanoag tribe and celebrated for 3 days. This celebration is what later came to be known as the “First Thanksgiving”.
On the contrary to the Thanksgiving culinary hallmark dishes such as turkey, pies, cakes and cranberry sauces, the “First Thanksgiving” feature none of these dishes. Instead, they had 6 deer brought by the Wampanoag Tribe, Lobsters, Seal, swans, fishes and shellfish. They did not have the luxury of sugar to make any deserts or oven to make a pie. Though as time passed, none of the original menu made its way to the current menu. There isn’t any clear trace in history on how Civilizations Turkey became the major poultry of Thanksgiving but speculations say that it could be something that was passed on by the Native Americans. Turkey was regarded as the Native American bird and historical evidence show that they have been hunting for wild Turkey close to their harvest festival.
Although the celebration on November 1621 disregarded as the “First Thanksgiving” today, it was technically a harvest festival. Neither the Pilgrims nor the Native Americans regarded the day as Thanksgiving. The celebration of November 1621 could be the “First Thanksgiving” for Americans, but it definitely wasn’t the first in the World. The practice of harvest festival existed among the earliest civilizations in the World long before 1621. The most known civilization of them would be Rome, Greek, Indian, Egyptian, Chinese, European and etc. These Civilizations have long had the practice of harvest festival as a way to Thank God for the wealth they gained through the soil and mother nature.
Much has changed in today’s Thanksgiving from its origin. But the essence of it still lingers. The spirit of sharing food and happiness, being grateful for what we have, sharing the love as family and friends are the essence of any great celebration and we will see this tradition live on for many more years to come.