We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving. Pilgrims and Native Americans got together for a big, sweet ass meal and have been friends ever since. Right? Well, not exactly. Here are a few tasty morsels of fact to chew on while pondering the real first Thanksgiving experience.
They weren’t Pilgrims. The first settlers were referred to as “First Comers” or “Old Comers” when they first arrived, which evolved to “Forefathers”. It wasn’t until a celebration in 1820, when famous orator (and Big Dictionary tycoon) Daniel Webster referred to the settlers as ‘Pilgrim Fathers’, that the name stuck.
Thanksgiving wasn’t a meal. The first Thanksgiving wasn’t merely a three hour affair that occurred at the dinner table. Much like Woodstock and ComiCon, Thanksgiving was an event that took place over a few days and included multiple feasts and celebrations. The event was later shortened to a single day because much like Woodstock, too much wavy gravy can be a bad thing.
Thanksgiving hasn’t always been around. Sure, we first celebrated Thanksgiving way back in 1621. But it wasn’t an official yearly event until centuries later. Celebrations were spotty and intermittent until the holiday was created in 1827. Abraham Lincoln recognized Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1863 (too bad he wasn’t as enthusiastic about creating a ‘National Bulletproof Top Hat Day’), and Thanksgiving got its full standing in 1939 when FDR designated the fourth Thursday in November as the holiday proper.
A big turkey on the table? Not likely. There may have been a scrawny turkey served, but more likely duck and goose. Turkeys around the settlement were fairly small, looking nothing like the domesticated fowl we serve today. Other dishes served on the first day? Probably lots of venison, seafood, and delicious savory and sweet pies.
It wasn’t harmonious – at first. Pilgrims and Native Americans gave thanks together, but only after the natives showed up unannounced. Written accounts imply that nearby Wampanoag Indians arrived to the feast after hearing loud celebrating. Not wanting to ruin the potential for a righteous kegger, the Wampanoag and pilgrims decided to party together like it’s 1621. The rest is history.