On Wednesday, CBN News posted an article about the real story of Thanksgiving. Please follow the link to read the entire story. Meanwhile, here are a few highlights:
As for verifiable facts, one for sure is that these religious reformers started building their first American settlement in the harsh winter of 1620-1621, even as half their number died around them.
But just a few months later these faithful Christians who believed in thanking God for everything were already planning the first American Thanksgiving.
“This was in 1621 after the first season here in Plymouth where they lost half their population and only had 51 of 102 people left at the end of that season,” Pilgrim role-player Leo Martin told CBN News.
…”The very first feast that we had in these parts, our governor sent four men on fowling and in just some small hours, the four men were able to take enough wildfowl to feed our company for a week,” he said. “For we required a special manner of rejoicing, the Lord having sustained us for a year and having brought in such a goodly harvest.”
‘They Are a Toothsome Bird‘
In Plymouth’s annual Thanksgiving parade, the occasional float will go by showing large, plump turkeys, the kind today’s Americans imagine Pilgrims feasted on. But in truth, their turkeys were wild, lean and mean.
“They were very skinny and they could run up to 25 miles an hour,” Martin said. “So to catch one was a challenge.”
…At the Plimoth Plantation where that first Pilgrim settlement is faithfully recreated, top researcher Richard Pickering dresses up to act out the part of Edward Winslow, one of only two Pilgrims to leave a written record of that first Thanksgiving.
…’Winslow’ said, “I find the turkeys here of New England, they are a bit different than those that live upon the dunghills back home in England. But they are a toothsome bird.”
Another sure fact: these grateful Englishmen didn’t dine alone because they knew they wouldn’t have made it without the Indians, or Sachems, as Winslow called them.
The Native Americans showed them what could grow in this radically different soil that was unkind to English seeds.
…”They felt that Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoag Indians, was so instrumental in their survival that they should invite Massasoit and his immediate family to that celebration, and they did,” Martin explained.
But Massasoit misunderstood a bit.
“While we were feasting and making of sport and exercising our arms, amongst us come the great Sachem Massasoit and about 90 of his men,” Winslow said.
Martin pointed out that could have wiped out all the Pilgrims’ supplies, but the chief and his braves brought plenty of food with them.
“Venison, turkey, fish, vegetables — and together they had enough food for a three-day celebration where they honored one another and became better friends,” Martin said.
The article concludes:
Finally, the cook would have seasoned this stuffing with herbs brought all the way from England, like thyme, hyssop, and parsley.
“We believe that the things they are growing in their kitchen gardens in the 17th century are primarily things brought over from England. They’re trying to bring home with them,” Messier (Norah Messier is Plimoth Plantation’s expert on the food of that era.) explained. “They’re trying to make New England feel like old England.”
That likely is why a man like Winslow would have preferred something better than those skinny, exotic New England turkeys.
Winslow said with a twinkle in his eye, “In truth, my greatest delight is a goose for I do love its great fatness.”