With turkey day just a couple of days away, I thought I would share some interesting facts about Thanksgiving with you. The Pilgrims had their first feast after a successful harvest in the autumn of the year 1621, and it lasted three days. The Pilgrims invited 90 Wampanoag Indians to join them in their celebration feast. This feast was not repeated yearly by the Pilgrims, but our modern Thanksgiving is modeled after this feast, in part. Thanksgiving was established as a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War in 1863. Lincoln was convinced to declare the last Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day by a women’s magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale, who also write “Mary had a Little Lamb”. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt changed the date to the 4th Thursday in November, which is when it is celebrated to this day.
As for the menu in 1621, the only foods mentioned in the two surviving written accounts of the feast are “corn” (wheat, by the Pilgrims usage of the word), Indian corn (used for cornmeal), barley (mainly for making beer), peas (small amount), “fowl/ waterfowl” (goose, duck, crane, swan, partridge), five deer, fish (bass and cod), and wild turkey. However, there were other foods available to the Pilgrims that may have been eaten at the feast. What would not have been on the Pilgrim’s table includes sweet potatoes, ham, corn on the cob, popcorn, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. What – no pie!!! Well, they may have had a pumpkin pudding type thing that was sweetened by honey or syrup. So, they did eat very well at this harvest feast. I am getting hungry just thinking about it! I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and much feasting!
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