Everything I thought I knew about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving was wrong. As it turns out, these folks didn't call themselves "pilgrims" and didn't e...moreEverything I thought I knew about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving was wrong. As it turns out, these folks didn't call themselves "pilgrims" and didn't even wear cute brass buckles on their hats and boots. They did, apparently get on fairly well with the Indian tribes in their area. They also continued a European custom of holding a three day harvest festival each late September/early October, and observed several religious days of "giving thanks" through out the year. In regards to that mythical first Thanksgiving, Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow sent a letter to his brother in England which was dated 12/12/1621 and stated,
"Our harvest gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labours. They four in one day killed as much foul as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week. At which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms (by target shooting), many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst their greatest king, Massasoit with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted. And they went out and killed five deer which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor and Captain and others."
So there you have it, the first Thanksgiving. I think. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln saw a need to unite the country and issued a Presidential Proclamation that the fourth Thursday of each November be set aside as a National Day of Thanksgiving and Praise. Then, in 1941 the official Thanksgiving holiday was moved to the last Thursday of November.
Some more interesting facts included in this volume are: ~Fifty-one people (half of the number who sailed on the Mayflower) died the first winter in Plymouth ~In 1642 a young man was executed in Plymouth Colony after being found guilty of "buggery" (bestiality!) ~Despite the nonsense in Salem, MA in 1692, Plymouth Colony found two women accused of witchcraft to be not guilty and fined the accusers for making false complaints ~During this period medical practitioners consisted of three types: those who performed internal surgery, those who prescribed internal medicine, and barbers who were allowed to cut hair, treat external conditions and practice blood letting O_O
Finally, have you ever been to Plymouth, MA? Seen the infamous Plymouth Rock? During our recent vacation, the hubby and I drove there expecting to take a fun, educational and touristy day trip. It was raining, gusting wind and unbelievably cold and to our extreme disappointment we discovered that the town of Plymouth, MA completely shuts down during bad weather. Even so, we thought, "At least we can see that damn rock!" Ha! The rock can only be viewed from a distance, and is so very, very small.
(By the way, this is not our picture. We couldn't even take a picture because it was raining so hard and the wind was blowing too much to even hold the umbrella open long enough to snap a photo. Freaking weather!)
Another interesting fact is that when you do an image search for "Plymouth Rock" the mysterious interwebs also provides multiple pictures of chickens.
[image error] True story!
At any rate, according to the authors of this text, the original Plymouth Rock has been broken into so many pieces. A 100lb. portion of it resides in England, a 50lb. chunk at the Plymouth Congregational Church, and a 400lb. piece "serves as a doorstop in a house near Plymouth." In addition there are several pieces in the Conoco Refinery in Hull, MA and for some reason in the Nevada State Museum in Carson City, Nevada. At on point in the early 1800's stores in Plymouth, MA even sold small pieces of the rock for $1.50. So I suppose we should all be glad there is even anything left today.
Bottom line, this book is filled with a shit ton of information about the Plymouth pilgrims, their views, and their journey. It is written in a question and answer format which makes for dry reading, but allows for multiple breaks when the info overload becomes a bit overwhelming. Although I feel cheated out of visiting all of the fun touristy stuff in Plymouth, MA I am sure this book was a much more educational (as well as affordable!) alternative. Well worth the $16.95 =)