A Brief Thanksgiving History
In 1620, a group of people sailed to the new world, what is now America. Their ship was called the Mayflower and they were known as Saints and Strangers. A large number of them were fleeing religious persecution, the Saints, and the rest were just on an adventure to new lands for their own reasons, the Strangers. Together, they are known as Pilgrims.
The Pilgrims had a rough time on their voyage, arriving in Massachusetts with a smaller number than they set out with due to diseases such as scurvy. What’s more, they had been blown off course and hadn’t been aiming for Massachusetts at all, but Virginia.
With a smaller crew and not ending up where they had planned, the settlers were on their own. They were fortunate to make contact with a few friendly Native Americans who helped them, with their knowledge of herbs and local crops, and trading. Their corn crop grew substantially with the Native Americans’ trick of placing small fish around the seeds.
A 3-day holiday
After a long, hard year, the Pilgrims were ready to celebrate their survival. Despite their hardships, they had successfully settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts and had a relatively stable life and growing colony. The Pilgrims declared a three-day holiday to celebrate the harvest, and invited their Native American friends to join the festivities.
While they cooked the game animals that they and the Native Americans had hunted and trapped, a large portion of their meal was probably their crops and what food they foraged, such as berries and wild vegetables (Source).
Hundreds of years later, their grateful celebration was declared a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln and continues to be observed today. It is generally unknown why turkeys have become the centerpiece of the meal, but Americans eat more than 40 million of them every year despite the largely inhumane treatment of those turkeys to get them to our tables (Source).
Trapping and hunting were necessary for the survival of the Pilgrims, but luckily that is no longer the case today. Try giving thanks this year by sparing a turkey and focusing on wholesome plant-based foods instead. Happy Thanksgiving!