I bet you didn’t know it was the 400th Anniversary of Thanksgiving here in the USA? If you did, well done and extra helping of Pumpkin Pie for you! If not, did you know today’s image is as fake as Stove Top stuffing? What isn’t fake is Total Motorcycle’s appreciation of our visitors and wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving Week and of course Black Friday as well! Inspiration Friday: Happy 400th Thanksgiving!
So let’s all be inspired this year to give back, to appreciate that we can still ride free on the open roads, that our friends and family has (mostly) made it through the Pandemic and we still have the choice of Turkey or Tofurky. Please pass the gravy, thank God and amen!
Total Motorcycle, 100% FREE, 100% Giving back to riders and the motorcycling community since 1999. That’s a lot of riders and a lot of years.
Thank you for passing the potatoes and supporting us by ordering a TMW T-Shirt, reading our amazing Motorcycle Guides and being a part of our Community Forums for the last 24 years. Another amen to that brothers and sisters!
400 years is the first recorded religious Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth in 1623!
In 1621, the Wampanoag tribe and early English settlers came together, celebrating their successful harvest with a shared feast now known as the first Thanksgiving. This historic gathering marked a significant moment of cultural exchange, as both parties contributed to and learned from each other through this grand feast.
On the fourth Thursday of November, Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States. This national holiday was designed to honor the historical occasion when the early English Puritans who settled in Plymouth and the Native Americans convened for a harvest feast. Thanksgiving holds a rich and complex history, addressing themes that range from the origins of the feast, the pilgrims’ journey to the New World, to the evolution of modern traditions. As an interesting note, this year commemorates the 400th anniversary of the first recorded religious Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, elevating the significance of this annual festive observance. The origins of Thanksgiving as well as the events that transpired during the first feast will be further explored in the subsequent sections.
In this background sketch, we spotlight the Wampanoag people who were dwellers of today’s southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island for over 12,000 years before the Mayflower’s arrival in 1620. Several European explorers had landed on these shores before 1620, yet the Wampanoag people continuously prevailed. Their intimate knowledge of the terrain extended beyond the surface as they revered Mother Earth through their traditional pursuits of fishing, hunting, and harvesting. These crucial sustainment activities shaped their lifestyle and paved the way for significant encounters, like the one with the Pilgrims. As we transition into narrating the story of the Plymouth Colony settlers, we recognize that the Wampanoag’s earth-and-sea expertise played a pivotal role in the survival of the Mayflower Pilgrims.
The Plymouth Colony settlers, known as Puritans, were English Protestants determined to break away from the Church of England. They made their first move to Holland but struggled financially for 12 years. This led to their decision to embark on a voyage, funded by English merchants, across the Atlantic Ocean in 1620. Their initial destination was the location of what is today New York City. However, with winds working against them, they had to change course. Thus, Cape Cod, Massachusetts became their ‘New World.’ Their ship, the Mayflower, carried a diverse group of 101 people, comprising men, women, and children. The sea journey was long and enduring, lasting 66 days.
BRACING FOR WINTER
Just after the challenging voyage on the Mayflower and a rigorous unplanned landing, the Puritans were faced with a task of paramount importance – preparing for the biting winter. They tirelessly gathered essential resources like firewood for heat, pooled food accumulated on the journey, and scavenged for warm clothing. Anything they could find, from materials for shelter to additional sustenance that helped endure the harsh winter, was of significant value. Surrounded by unfamiliar territory, they also benefitted from the knowledge and guidance of the local Native Americans. These skilled natives offered invaluable insight into what could be utilized and how to survive their first winter. Despite these tribulations, the Puritans maintained focus, each task performed with conscientious precision. Their collective efforts thus setting the foundation for cooperation and shared understanding, leading to eventual collaboration and agreement with their novel neighbors. Their journey was far from over.
One fine day, Samoset, an Abenaki leader, and Tisquantum made an appearance at the settler’s campsite. Known better as Squanto, Tisquantum was a native Wampanoag who had previously interacted with other settlers, thereby learning their language, English. His expertise proved beneficial as he filled the settlers in on effective cultivation of corn and leveraging fish for field fertilization.
After several discourses, a formal agreement was fleshed out between the settlers and the natives, the detailed terms of which solidified their peace pact. Squanto’s experience with English, owed to his prior dealings with settlers, helped in fostering this understanding.
In March 1621, they unified their forces forming an alliance to guard each other from the threat of attack by other tribes. This phrase implies a consolidated defense pact against external tribal hostility. Both parties accepted this formal agreement, marking a stabilizing step in their rapport.
As the celebrated harvest feast began to take shape, four settlers embarked on a hunting expedition, consequently drawing attention with their gunshot echoes. Misinterpreting the distant gunfire symbol as a possible war preparation, the Wampanoag, an indigenous people of North America, alerted their leader, Massasoit. He, in turn, decided it necessary to investigate the unfolding scenario. With a cloud of suspense over the intended purpose behind the English settlers’ activity, Massasoit and his men decided to visit the settlement, to discern whether the speculations of conflict held any violent intent.
In the early 17th century, during what would become known as the First Thanksgiving, the Plymouth settlers were gathering food specifically for the harvest celebration. Faced with this, Massasoit’s men also hunted deer for the feast. A three-day feast ensued, which saw both the English settlers and Native Americans – men, women, and children – partake in the celebration. The meal was made up of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat, a feast far removed from the turkey-centric meal commonly associated with modern Thanksgiving. Amid the feasting, they engaged in various recreational activities such as ball games, singing, and dancing.
Two years after the 1621 harvest festivities, when people likely offered thanks and prayers, Plymouth’s first documented religious Thanksgiving Day took place. Building upon the gratitude felt and celebrations earlier, in 1623, the Plymouth colonists marked a significant day. They expressed their deep gratitude to God for the rainfall which ended a severe two-month drought crucial for their crops and survival. This event marked the first official religious observance of Thanksgiving in their community.
Unraveling Historical Inaccuracies
Many misconceptions surround the Puritans. For instance, contrary to popular belief, their clothing was not somber and black but rather bright and cheerful. Also, they did not wear silver buckles on their shoes.
Myths about the Native Americans
Similarly, popular images of the Native Americans are often misleading. They did not drape woven blankets over their shoulders or wear large, feathered headdresses, as some artworks may suggest.
Regardless of the common references to them as ‘Pilgrims,’ the settlers from England did not identify themselves as such.
Although the peace between the Native Americans and settlers spanned only about a generation—a period approximately 20 to 30 years—it’s important to note that this sentiment isn’t universal. The Native American group known specifically as the Wampanoag people, for instance, do not share the popular reverence for the traditional New England Thanksgiving.
The formation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday began in the 19th century. Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, started campaigning for an annual national celebration of Thanksgiving in 1846. It wasn’t until November 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday. He declared two separate Thanksgivings; one in August to honor the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, and the other in November as a time to express gratitude for overall wellbeing. His rationale for two occasions was to acknowledge both a specific historical event and the general blessings bestowed upon the nation. It is this November observance that continues to be celebrated today. Thus, the modern Thanksgiving that we know owes much of its existence to Lincoln’s second decree.
The above history was inspired by National Geographic for Kids