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Turkey on Thanksgiving? Not for the Pilgrims and Native American’s of 1621

November 29th, 2014

The origins of Thanksgiving can be traced back to a three-day event in November of 1621 when the Pilgrims, newly re-located to the New World, sought to celebrate a bountiful harvest due to the guidance and support from the Native Americans. It was because of this guidance that saved many of the pilgrim’s lives during that first difficult winter in the new land. Together the two cultures found a level of trust and comradery with one another as they gave thanks for their harvest and the goodness of their God. Still, the pilgrims and Native Americans feast in 1621 was not the first of its kind. Many cultures and groups throughout history have been known, once “delivered from drought or hardship” to have held celebrations with prayer and feasting in gratitude for coming through their challenges (Kelly).

Although each family may celebrate with their own variations of the Thanksgiving feast, there are many traditional, seasonal foods that many have come to expect at the dinner table. Yet what it little known is that much of the traditional foods were not actually present at the first Thanksgiving of 1621.
Some foods that may have been present at the Thanksgiving between the Native Americans and Pilgrims include; venison, geese, duck, seafood (fish, mussels, clams, oysters, and lobster), and fruits and vegetables (various berries, plums, grapes, onions, beans, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, cabbage, carrots, and cornmeal). That’s right; there were no potatoes, pumpkin pie, corn on the cob and likely no turkey present at the first Thanksgiving! Most individuals in America would be surprised to eat a Thanksgiving meal without these holiday staples on the dinner table (History.com).

We asked some of our in-office employees at CommGap three questions about their Thanksgiving celebrations including;
1. What is your favorite food or dish you have at Thanksgiving?
2. What is your favorite tradition you do on your own, with family, or friends to celebrate the holiday?
3. What does the holiday mean to you personally?

Amanda:
1. I don’t have a favorite. We eat the basics like turkey, potatoes, stuffing, rolls and pie. You can’t have one without the other!
2. The only tradition I can think of is that we have always had Martinelli’s for Thanksgiving as our beverage of choice. We make sure to have plenty of it for the big day.
3. Thanksgiving is a great day to spend time with family. We will usually talk about the things we are grateful for at the dinner table.

Mai:
1. Mai’s family doesn’t really have a lot of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes; instead they make Asian dishes specific from her culture and heritage. Her family enjoys making Asian foods like spring rolls and other Hmong dishes.
2. Although her family didn’t always celebrate Thanksgiving while growing up, they now celebrate it every year.
3. Thanksgiving means spending time together with family.

Aleisha:
1. I don’t know that I necessarily have a favorite dish on Thanksgiving – I love all of it. I do love mashed potatoes and gravy though, especially when paired with warm rolls.
2. My favorite tradition is getting together with family and sharing what we’re thankful for around the dinner table. I come from a very large extended family so it’s great to be with everyone.
3. For me, Thanksgiving is a time to consider all I’m grateful for and have been blessed with. It’s also a great opportunity to reflect on the great country we live in and our earliest beginnings in America.

For more fun and interesting facts about Thanksgiving throughout America’s past, check out the video and informational lists courtesy of History.com at http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-facts#

Works Cited
History.com Staff. “First Thanksgiving Meal.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2011. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
Kelly, Martin. “Thanksgiving Myths and Realities of Thanksgiving.” About Education. About, n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.

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