Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Myths

Hi, everyone! I hope you’re having a Happy Thanksgiving with your family and maybe your closest friends. Since we do not have a guest blogger for this week, I thought I would bring you some Thanksgiving myths. Let me start out by saying, all of the research for this post came from the internet. I am not a historian, so I cannot guarantee the accuracy or inaccuracy of any of these myths, but ALL of the articles I located on the internet did agree on ALL of these myths:

Myth One: The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 between the Pilgrims and the Indians and was celebrated every year thereafter.

Fact: Incorrect. The first Thanksgiving can be attributed to the Texans in 1958 in San Elizario, which is located near El Paso, Texas. This was twenty-three years before the Pilgrims. The Texans staged a reenactment of the arrival of the Spanish traveler Juan de Onate, which was the occasion that started the Thanksgiving. After guiding hundreds of settlers through 350 miles of Mexican desert, Juan de Onate reportedly held a Thanksgiving festival.

Or, Virginians also claim that they were the first to hold the first Thanksgiving feast at Berkeley Plantation on the James River on December 4, 1619, a whole two years before the Pilgrims. To the Virginians we should remember the ship named Margaret that transported 38 English settlers in 1619 to the plantation. According to legend, the London Company that sponsored the Margaret passengers ordered them to honor the arrival of the ship with a Thanksgiving festival annually. President Kennedy officially recognized Berkeley plantations Thanksgiving claim in 1963.

Myth Two: The Pilgrims dressed in black with pointed hats and buckles on their shoes.

Fact: It was tradition for the Pilgrims to dress in black on Sundays, but most of the time they wore white, beige, green, blue, violet, brown and black clothing. It was also speculated that the Indians would have likely been fully clothed as well to ward off the chill of the Massachusetts in November. It is further believed that this popular image came about because buckles were a symbol of quaintness. Also, the blunderbuss rifle that is identified as a weapon of the Pilgrims was historically used to control crowds, not for hunting.

Myth Three: Pilgrim’s ate turkey, corn on the cob and cranberries.

Fact: We do not know if they had turkey, but the Pilgrims did not have apples, potatoes, pears, corn on the cob or cranberries. They did have deer. They did not eat with forks because they did not have forks back then. Mostly they ate with their fingers. Sometimes they would use a napkin when the food was too hot. Also, the Pilgrims did not sit down at tables with the Indians, bless the food and pass serving dishes. Most likely the food was set on flat surfaces (any that were available, from tree stumps to benches to tables) and the meal would have been consumed over three days without the historical pomp we were taught in school.

We conceive of the Pilgrims eating turkey and all the fixings because that’s the way the Victorians prepared Thanksgiving and they made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. It was Abe Lincoln that issued that presidential proclamation…two proclamations actually. We were to celebrate Thanksgiving in August and November. Americans did not celebrate Thanksgiving outside of New England before then. Incidentally, the Pilgrims did not even become the icon of the holiday until the nineteenth century. Thanksgiving was a day of thanks before that. It certainly was not a day when the Pilgrims were remembered.

Myth Four: Log cabins were the homes of Pilgrims.

Fact: Log cabins were introduced to Americans by Germans and Swedes and did not appear in the States until late in the seventeenth century. If one were to visit Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, one would be able to see the types of homes Pilgrims lived in—wood clapboard houses, which were made from sawed lumber.

I hope you enjoyed the history lesson. ;-) There was a ton of myths and urban legends on the net about Thanksgiving. Don’t take my word for it. Do the research yourself…or read the sources I found:

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you that are celebrating the holiday with us fellow Americans. I hope all of you have a happy and safe weekend!

2 deadly screams:

Cheryl M. said...

Cool post Gracen!
As a Canadian, I've always been kind of curious about the whole pilgram thing Americans have going on with Thanksgiving,now I'm a little bit more informed,lol.

Molly Daniels said...

Ummm...Gracen? I think you mean 1598, not 1958:)

Cool! Did NOT know half of those facts:)