Trailer Park Unschoolers

Because you don't need to be rich to unschool!

Some Turkey Day Myths

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Okay, so I’ve been out of the loop for a while.  We had a full day Sunday.  We had church in the morning (to which we were late because I was sick).  Then we walked the five mile round trip to the store and back so we could get something to bring to the feast at the church.  Then we did Thanksgiving at the church.  I ended up having to go home because all that activity sent me from under the weather to incredibly ill.  I took one day off from everything, holed up in my room with Luca.  Yesterday was spent recovering from having mama out of the loop for a while.  That meant lots of cleaning and laundry!  So here I am, back just in time for Turkey Day!

The kids and I have been talking and we’ve decided we’d like to share a few things about Turkey Day that seem to be commonly accepted myths, and what the truth behind them are.  We don’t have many, but maybe we’ll build on them every year.  It sounded like fun, so I’m letting the kids run with it.

Myth #1 The Pilgrims called their feast “the first Thanksgiving”.

Truth:  Well, let’s begin in the beginning.  Everything about that statement is wrong, starting from “the Pilgrims”.  The Pilgrims didn’t think of themselves as pilgrims at all.  They were called “the First Comers” by their descendants, and it’s thought that they thought of themselves in a similar manner, especially since not all of them came for religious reasons.  On top of that, as a religious practice the Puritan people always gave thanks every Thursday.  This would make every Thursday “thanksgiving day”.  And, finally, why would they cal it the first if they didn’t know it would become a national tradition.

Myth #2  The Pilgrims invited their native friends to their feast as thanks for teaching them how to survive and get food in this new world.

Truth:  Well, part of that’s correct, sort of.  As records show it seems that they collectively agreed to share the harvest feast.  Thursday thanksgiving was a tradition in the Pilgrim culture.  The harvest feast is a tradition in many Native American cultures.  They simply combined the two, and the Wampanoag people didn’t come empty handed either!  It seems they left the farmed goods to the villagers while they brought what they could hunt and fish.

Myth #3 The Pilgrims ate turkey, fresh squash, pumpkins, corn, pies, cranberry sauce, and breads.

Truth:  While they probably did eat all the vegetables they harvested, the one point of the feast that was conspicuously missing was the turkey!  Instead they were brought six whole deer by the Wampanoag people as their contribution to the feast.  So venison would be a much more appropriate Thanksgiving dinner!  With the absence of something to stuff, there wouldn’t be stuffing either!  It’s also thought that the Pilgrims didn’t yet know about harvesting cranberries (originally called “crane berries”, good memory Corde!) so they might not have had cranberry sauce, and if they did it certainly wouldn’t have been called cranberry sauce!  And what about all those mouth-watering pies?  We’ve been looking, but we haven’t found a single source yet that suggests pies were a part of the feast.  That one’s still up in the air.  However, it is known that the Pilgrims did make lots of bread, most of which seems to have been made with a corn base.  They certainly had a much different feast than we would today!

Myth #4 The Pilgrims and Wampanoag people enjoyed a day of feasting in honor of the first successful harvest.

Truth:  I like the truth in this so much better.  Nope, not one day!  Three whole days of feasting, games, and enjoyment between the two cultures!  Of course, the whole thing had to have been called off by Sunday so the Pilgrims could see to their worship.  If only we preserved it as a three-day feast!  Of course, that would get in the way of all that Black Friday shopping…

Myth #5 The Pilgrims wore black outfits with shiny silver buckles.

Truth:  Actually, the Pilgrims wore a lot more color than that.  It seems they rarely wore black, and they didn’t have any buckles at all.  Everything tied secure in place.  Buckles were hard to craft and expensive.  The Pilgrims spent everything they had on the journey and likely couldn’t afford such finery in the first place.  Their whole style of dress was much different than what’s pictured as traditional, and we have no idea why black and buckled became the expected image of the Pilgrims.

Myth #6 …and we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving on the 4th weekend of November ever since.

Truth:  Have you ever been in Massachusetts in November?  If you have, you know that story is a little hard to believe.  It’s freezing cold and the ground has already frozen over.  There’s no way a harvest could have taken place then.  Chances are the actual harvest took place in October.  They also never celebrated again after that first year.  It wasn’t until 200 years later when a woman named Sarah Hale (thanks, Beekee, for your good memory for names!) petitioned President Lincoln to make it a national holiday that the date was selected.  I’m inclined to believe my history teacher on how the date was set.  October already had one national holiday, Columbus Day.  Putting Thanksgiving in the end of October, when it likely fell, would mean two national holidays in October and none in November.  Instead the pushed it back to late November, giving it the same time period (the end of the month).  I’ve also heard that the reason for the placement was to keep it suitably away from not only Columbus day, but Halloween.  It was also timed just before the beginning of Advent (the countdown to Christmas in the Catholic church) which would put everyone in the right mind for the holiday to follow.  There’s nothing better to kick off the season of giving than taking a moment to be truly thankful for everything you have in your life.

So, that’s all we’ve got for today.  While I don’t expect to see any of you tomorrow as everyone will probably be celebrating with their families (well, those of you who are American), I’ll be stopping in tomorrow to share what we’re all thankful for.  We’re even going to try and guess what Sabrina and Luca are thankful for!

I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving.  I know we’re not going to have much of a Thanksgiving, but we’ll definitely have an interesting time of it.  The kids say, “Happy Turkey Day everyone!”  And we’ll likely be seeing all of you again when we write about our alternative to Black Friday shopping insanity!  Enjoy!


Author: Fox

With four kids, who has time for much? We spend a lot of time together, which translates to a lot of knitting time for me when we hang out. We've been trying to get back to our unschooling roots. We watch a lot of videos, play a lot of games, and pay attention to the things we notice in our everyday life. It's been quite the big adventure!

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