Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thursday Thirteen 2, Thanksgiving Myths

Thirteen Things about THANKSGIVING MYTHS

1. The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving. There is much debate where the Pilgrims held a harvest celebration or a time of thanksgiving. They did not refer to their three day feast as Thanksgiving as we refer to it. This feast did not become a yearly event, and it was not until the 1800s that Americans began to think about a regular Thanksgiving celebration.

2. Since it was a harvest celebration God was left out. The Pilgrims were a very religious group. To think they didn’t pray or include God in their celebration would be denying who they were.

3. Pilgrims……Puritans, they were all the same. The Pilgrims were Seperatists who disagreed with the Church of England. They preferred to leave England and settled in Holland before sailing for “Northern Virginia”……..actually present-day Massachusetts. The Puritans came over later and began settling in the area of present-day Boston.

4. Pilgrims wore dark clothing and per many of the paintings and school pageants where the feast is portrayed Native Americans wore feather headresses. In probate records from the time period we find inhabitants of Plymouth owned cloaks of red and clothing of various hues. The large buckles we are so fond of using to recreate Pilgrim clothing did not come into use until the late 1600s. Wampanoags would not have worn headresses in the manner of Plains Indians. They also did not live in teepees.

5. The Pilgrims were the only group to have a time of thanksgiving. Records indicate many different European groups in North America had times of thanksgiving including the Spanish in present-day Texas and in St. Augustine during the 1500s. The settlers at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia also make a claim of having an earlier thanksgiving celebration. Ultimately various Native Americans of North America must have the distinction of a harvest celebration and/or time of thanksgiving as they had done so for thousands of years as part of their culture.

6. They ate turkey. While we are certain through various records of the time they ate deer we are not certain about turkey. Records indicate fowl was served, but historians continue to debate the turkey issue. It is certain that many of the dishes we consider traditional today were not served at the Pilgrim’s feast.

7. The Pilgrims lived in log cabins. Many of the images that have been created over the years show Pilgrims living in log type cabins. This is incorrect. For many months the Pilgrims continued to use The Mayflower as a home. Slowly, wooden, clapboard building were fashioned to house the Pilgrims and their possessions.

8. The Pilgrims prepared the food and invited the Wampanoags. Like any pot-luck everyone participated. The Pilgrims would have prepared some of the food and Massasoit, along with 90 of his braves brought several deer.

9. After three days of feasting there must have been tons of dishes to wash. My students are usually delighted to find out that the early Pilgrims would have had no plates and there wasn’t a single fork at Plymoth Plantation. They ate with their hands.

10. The term “Pilgrims” was not in use until the 1870s. William Bradford states “They knew they were Pilgrims.” in his Of Plimoth Plantation. He was there. He should know.

11. William Bradford issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1623. Jeremy D. Bangs gives a great debunking to this misconception here.

12. The Pilgrims were grave robbers. Written first-hand accounts of people who were there indicate they found graves, examined them, but left things intact. They did find buried corn and carried some of it away with them.

13. Celebrating Thanksgiving is a slap in the face to Native Americans and should not be done. True, after Massasoit died things began to get increasingly tense between the Wampanoags and all European settlers in the area including the Pilgrims. King Philip’s War is proof of that. Perhaps we could look at Thanksgiving as the time that once was…..the time when there was a promise of doing things in a more congenial manner. Thanksgiving should not be looked upon as a celebration of domination or a time of mourning……it serves as an important lesson that Europeans and Native Americans were not always at odds. They could cooperate and live together. There are lessons to be learned from the breakdown of relations.


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9 comments:

teachergirl said...

Happy Thanksgiving! Have a great day.

K T Cat said...

Great list! I love your blog, too. I'll make sure to come back. As for leaving God out, that's a fairly recent invention. It's hard to read any writing from, say, the Revolutionary War period that doesn't mention God.

My TT is up.

happychyck said...

Nice job! Interesting reading between the two posts and all the links! Happy Thanksgiving!

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Thanks for setting me/us straight on some of the realities of the first Thanksgiving. Like your students, I am fascinated by the feasters having no dishes and eating with their hands--especially since I know how grubby the hands of elementary students can be!

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Thanks for stopping by Teachergirl!

kt cat, thanks for the compliments. I'll agree that historians as well as other interested parties have had quite a debate going on regarding our nation's religous foundations. The whole thing really facinates me. I really need to research the whole issue more on my own, but what I know from my initial investigations is there is a bit of truth on each side. Hmmmm.....maybe I'll write a book.

It's always nice to have you stop by happychyck!

CTG, I have quite a bit of research regarding how the Pilgrims lived stored in my classroom. I need to make sure I have it pulled out for next year so share here. One of the best movies that really depicts how unclean conditions were is The Crucible....the one with Daniel Day Lewis. It has it all....dirty clothes, nasty teeth, etc. Our images today are so romanticized.

Di said...

The little Thanksgiving thing that my friend and I put together for my son's 5th grade class was a huge success and I think really stunned the teacher. We had five stations and had the kids set up in groups of 4 or 5 rotating between the stations which were: making cranberry sauce, making corn bread, making butter, making applesauce (my Pampered Chef apple peeler corer was a big hit!) and making a mason jar oatmeal cookie recipe (where you layer the non-perishable ingredients and then cover the top with fabric and attach a recipe for what needs to be added). Of course, between us Stacy and I probably put in 30 hours of work to prepare for the 2 hour party. On Sunday alone I was at her house from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and we went to three Publix and a Wal-Mart looking for the right size mason jars!

I'm thankful that we survived and weren't overrun by disappointed 10 and 11 year olds!

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

I'm sure it was a big hit. It was nice of you to give the teacher a "sort-of" break. I would have loved to have parents come in and do an activity like that.

We had read all day on our last day before the holiday. One of my moms came in and read about Pablo Picasso and showed the students some of his more appropriate works. Then we let the kids attempt to Picassos themselves. They did pretty well.

Anonymous said...

This is a very cool list! I wasn't aware of half of these things. Thanks for posting them. :)

Anonymous said...

Very interesting list!! I didn't know much about all this.
Thanks for stopping by.