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History of Thanksgiving

by Erich Martin

Nov 7, 2019

Likely the most popular Thanksgiving event is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, but head north for a more authentic celebration. In Massachusetts, Plymouth Plantation brings history to life with a Thanksgiving feast and full weekend of fun. © Joe Sohm – Dreamstime.com

Trends / History

The story goes, at least in elementary schools, pilgrims landed in Plymouth just before the harsh winter. The local Native Americans taught these hapless arrivals how to farm in New England and survive the winter. This story is taught to elementary-school kids, but there are plenty of tours to learn about the history of Thanksgiving and how those settlers originally made their way in the New World.


It should come as no surprise the simple story we are taught as children is not exactly correct or comprehensive.


History.com does a good job running down what really happened leading up to and on the first Thanksgiving. The pilgrims arrived in North America in September 1620. This first winter was brutal, and the pilgrims spent it onboard the Mayflower. Next spring, they met Squanto, an English-speaking Native American who taught the group to plant and harvest corn.


According to History.com, many of the dishes for the first feast were prepared with Native American spices and techniques. The feast lasted three days and was a celebration of the successful harvest and alliance between the pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe.


In the years since, Thanksgiving has become a national holiday, and even enjoys equivalent celebrations all over the world, including Canada and Germany.






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