Thanksgiving History: Natives and Settlers Marked the First Feast Together in 1621

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Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November every year to honor the harvest and all other blessings of the preceding year.

During the celebrations, people gather with their loved ones for a meal, having a roasted turkey coupled with pumpkin pie, vegetables, and potatoes.


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Natives and English settlers celebrated their first Thanksgiving in 1621

It is widely believed in 1621, Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag shared a harvest feast, which is considered the first Thanksgiving celebration.

Thus, the holiday is rich in legend and symbolizes a culture of saying thanks for all the blessings one had in the outgoing year.

Back in 1621, a few Plymouth colonists started hunting some birds, probably turkeys, geese, and ducks; they successfully managed to get their hands on a lot of them.

The colonists had enough birds to serve the company for a long time, and then almost 90 Wampanoags appeared out of the blue at the settlement’s gate.

Nonetheless, the two groups contributed to each other and coexisted in the upcoming days. According to the legend, Wampanoags not only contributed venison to the feast but also the fish, vegetables, eels, stews, beer, and shellfish.

Due to the lack of physical infrastructure back then in Plymouth, most people ate while sitting on the ground with their plates on their laps.

This was the beginning of two different cultural groups coexisting in colonial America. This led to a treaty between the English settlers of Plymouth and native Americans.

While this was the first known treaty between natives and settlers, it supposedly encouraged people to accept diversity in their cultures. 

The natives showed English settlers crop plantations, places to go fishing and hunting, and some other crucial survival hacks that would be helpful for English settlers moving forward.

While Pilgrims did not intend to set a trend to be followed for centuries to come, Thanksgiving became the common tradition in the years to come.

Nonetheless, for the pilgrims, honoring the autumn harvest was an old habit with references to Christians’ religious observance. This was a traditional celebration in New England.

First Thanksgiving did not have turkeys on the menu

Turkey gained the center stage of Thanksgiving meal, with the prevailing notion being the first Thanksgiving back in 1621 had a turkey served on the menu. However, most historians believe although the meat was served, it was probably ducks or goose.

The arrival of turkeys on dinner tables during Thanksgiving can be attributed to the offset of the 19th century when it became a popular dish in America. Historians believe the bird became omnipresent, due to three different reasons.

These reasons ultimately include the abundance of turkeys in the country. Americans can keep this history lesson in mind as they enjoy the holiday.