6 Things to Know about the History of Thanksgiving

The year was 1621, and Pilgrims from Plymouth, England were in search of freedom. 102 passengers set sail aboard the Mayflower to the New World. During their 66-day journey the Pilgrims were tested and tried. The Pilgrims ended up near the tip of Cape Cod, Mass. Once docked there, many stayed in the ship struck by illness and exhaustion from the long trip. One month later, they crossed the Massachusetts Bay. Their final destination was eventually named Plymouth.

Luckily, they were greeted by the helpful attitude of a group of Native Americans who taught them how to live off the land. Check out the items below!

  1. Squanto was one of the Native Americans to extend a hand to the Pilgrims. He taught them the way of the land: planting, harvesting, and fishing.
  2. Squanto also helped the Pilgrims forge a lifetime alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe of Native Americans.
  3. In November 1621, the Pilgrims’ planting efforts were successful. To say thanks, Governor William Bradford invited the Native American allies to a feast lasting 3 days.
  4. Approximately 143 people were at the first Thanksgiving.
  5. We’ve adopted our own menu, but it was likely wild turkey, ducks, geese or swans as well as venison, oysters, clams and mussels were served at the first Thanksgiving.
  6. It wasn’t until 1863, that Thanksgiving was claimed a National Holiday by President Abraham Lincoln.

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The teaching and knowledge of the Native Americans was instrumental to the survival of the Pilgrims. Without their influence, the sick and weary travelers could have been without an ally in the New World. Today, amidst our celebration may we not forget the suffering and overcoming nature of these people and the power their friendship provided. That’s truly something to celebrate. Happy Thanksgiving!