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THE FIRST THANKSGIVING


The first Thanksgiving wasn’t like it says in schoolbooks – the Pilgrims ate eel instead of turkey, wore brightly-colored clothes instead of black and guzzled booze!

“The people we’ve come to know as Pilgrims didn’t even call themselves Pilgrims,” disclosed William Deetz, a famous anthropologist.

“Those who were members of the Separatist Church Movement referred to themselves as ‘Saints.’ About 60 others who came over in the Mayflower with them were called ‘Strangers.’

“But they all knew how to have fun and enjoy life. They made and drank a lot of beer, hard cider and something like today’s brandy. Occasionally there was drunkenness and fighting.

“When the settlers had the first Thanksgiving giving in 1621, they almost certainly had eel, which the Indians taught them to catch, Turkeys are not mentioned until many years after 1621. There were 90 Indians in attendance – and only 50 English. That’s considerably different from the pictures you see of many black-garbed Pilgrims sitting around a table with an Indian at each end.

“We know the Pilgrims wore very colorful clothes. And the settlers wore boots, not the black shoes with the big buckles you always see in pictures. That was a style of clothing that came along many years later in England.”

What’s more, the first Thanksgiving didn’t take place in November, said Dr. Benjamin Ehrlich, former executive vice president of the Plymouth Plantation Museum in Massachusetts.

“The celebration we’ve come to call Thanksgiving is really an outgrowth of the harvest home celebration that goes all the way back to the Middle Ages.

“It was a celebration held when a bumper crop came in and was almost always held in September or October at the latest.”