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Do You Really Know Thanksgiving History?

November 28, 2013 by John Rook

Untitled-8_1.jpgIt started with the Pilgrims and Native Americans, sitting down to a big turkey dinner in the small village of Plymouth.
That's the story of Thanksgiving, right? It was a time of religion and family and togetherness.
But, what if that really isn't the whole story?
What if history is far more murky and even a little embellished?
Here are some of the myths associated with one of your favorite holidays:

1.) The Pilgrims Held Thanksgiving

Well, this isn't so much of a myth as it is a debate. See, the Pilgrims did in fact have a thanksgiving feast with Native Americans, but several people claim it wasn't the first such meal.
In fact, in Texas, locals insist the first real Thanksgiving was held in a community near El Paso to celebrate the arrival of Spenish explorer Juan de Onate a full 23 years before the Pilgrims sat down for their dinner.
Likewise, in Virginia on the Berkeley Plantation, citizens of that state insist Thanksgiving was held in December 1619, a full two years before the Plymouth get-together.

2.) The Pilgrims Ate Turkey

There's no record that the Pilgrims and Native Americans had turkey on the menu for their Thanksgiving feast, nor did they have the side dishes we have come to love — cranberry sauce, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes or apples and pears. Instead, what we know they had was deer. In fact, 11 deer are believed to have been served.
The reason all the other fixins, including turkey, became a mainstay for the holiday is because those in the Victorian age prepared their celebration meals that way.

3.) Pilgrims Lived In Log Cabins

Almost every picture of Thanksgiving shows Pilgrims piling out of log cabins to meet their guests. The truth is log cabins weren't introduced into the American consciousness until almost 100 years later, when German and Swedish settlers brought the practice to the "New World." Instead, Pilgrims lived in wood clapboard houses.

4.) Pilgrims Dressed All In Black

Almost every school play about Thanksgiving includes little Pilgrim characters dressed all in black with large buckles and steeple hats. That's what a Pilgrim looked like right? Wrong. The image was conjured up years later, where Pilgrims were made to look like humble and quaint people. While the Pilgrims wore black for Sunday services, they traditionally wore outfits that were white, tan, green, beige, or brown.
Even the blunderbuss was a creation of later generations, and the weapon was used almost exclusively for crowd control and Pilgrims carried hunting rifles.

5.) Thanksgiving Was Celebrated Throughout The U.S.

It's fairly common knowledge that President Abraham Lincoln was the one who officially enshrined Thanksgiving as a national holiday, yet it's widely assumed the feast was unofficially celebrated by most in America at the time.
That's not true. In fact, few outside of New England ever celebrated Thanksgiving, and even those states did it very differently. Some citizens celebrated in October while others waited until sometime in January. In the south, most had never celebrated Thanksgiving in their lives. The practice only truly caught on after the end of the Civil War.

(Information provided by History News Network.)

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