Most people love Thanksgiving. It is a time for families to get together and celebrate the holiday together. Most people cook a turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, and plenty of delicious pies. The reason that we are told that we celebrate Thanksgiving is that we are commemorating the meal between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Over the years, the holiday has gone from a celebration of this union to a celebration of watching football with the family and having fun.
What History Tells Us
Every kid in school learns about the first Thanksgiving in class. We have been taught that in 1621, the first Thanksgiving took place. The Pilgrim Fathers gathered together to celebrate the first harvest in the newly settled land of Plymouth Country, which is now known as Massachusetts. The settlers decided to invite the Native Americans to the celebration to thank them for their help. They also wanted to make the Native Americans feel welcome. On the first Thanksgiving, they sat down for turkey, sweet potatoes, and pie. It sounds like a delightful story, but unfortunately, it isn’t all true. Here is the disturbing truth about Thanksgiving that you never learned in history class.
Squanto is a famous Tisquantum, and he had a lot to do with the first Thanksgiving. In school, we were taught that this Patuxet Indian spoke English, which helped him to communicate with the English newcomers and translate to his fellow Native Americans. While this part of the story is true, this isn’t the whole story. Squanto didn’t spend his entire life in Plymouth Colony with his friends and family members. He also didn’t translate during the first Thanksgiving feast out of the kindness of his heart. The reason that Squanto was the only Native American who spoke English was that he was enslaved and forced into servitude in England. When the English headed to his native land in 1619, they brought him along. The figured that he could help them speak to the people in his native land. If you thought that Squanto was just a highly-intelligent Native American man who helped open the lines of communications between the Pilgrims and the other Native Americans, you are wrong.
Was It All Smiles and Pleasantries?
The story of the first Thanksgiving says that it was all peace and happiness during the first Thanksgiving feast. This also is not accurate. The Pilgrims didn’t send out a happy invitation to the Native Americans asking them to join them for a meal. Massasoit, the Native American chief of the Wampanoag people, was invited to the first Thanksgiving. He arrived at the feast with 90 of his men. Because the Native Americans were armed warriors, the Pilgrims decided that they had to do something as a show of force. They fired their guns in the air to let the Native Americans know that they could fight if necessary. This isn’t exactly that happy start to a dinner that we were taught in elementary school. Putting up a sign of force before dinner doesn’t make for the most relaxed meal.
Our Thanksgiving menu is said to be based on what the Pilgrims and the Native Americans ate on the first Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, this part of the story is also untrue. While there were wild turkeys in the area, they were not served during that meal. The Wampanoag people showed up with five deer to be cooked. This means that we shouldn’t be eating roasted turkey on Thanksgiving, we should be eating venison. Also, sweet potatoes weren’t growing in the region at the time. This means that they couldn’t have been served during that first meal. Finally, the settlers didn’t have flour or butter when they arrived in Plymouth Colony. Without sugar or butter, they couldn’t possibly have baked the pies that were said to have been served at the first Thanksgiving dinner.
Did We Get It All Wrong?
In school, we learned that the first Thanksgiving took place in 1621 so that the Pilgrims could thank the Native Americans for their hospitality and kindness. It is a beautiful story, but untrue. Many historians believe that the first Thanksgiving took place six years later, in 1637. They also think that the reason for the first meal was to mark the settlers’ victory over the Pequot Native Americans. If this is the case, the whole point of the meal was not to give thanks to one another. It also wasn’t about peace and harmony.
The Third Thursday Of November
Today, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the third Thursday in November. This isn’t the day that the first Thanksgiving took place. Thanksgiving wasn’t an official holiday until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln declared the first official Thanksgiving Day. It is believed that he chose this day to celebrate the Unionist Civil War victories. How did this have anything to do with the first meal shared by the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. The actual first meal took place in October 1621.
Unfortunately, nobody really knows the truth of the first Thanksgiving. The one thing we do know is that the history books got it all wrong. When the Native Americans and Pilgrims got together, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses; therefore, what are we celebrating? Over the years, the holiday has become all about commercialism. Why else would most stores open their doors on Thanksgiving night to kick off Black Friday shopping?