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SHARING FOOD - “Enemies could sit down together and meet over food.” This painting depicts the first Thanksgiving in November 1621, a celebration of a bumper harvest and acceptance of a different diet in a new land. To the Wampanoag, the celebration is actually a time of mourning, for when the settlers almost wiped out their tribe.


Thanksgiving, is literally a celebration of the harvest, by way of giving thanks to God. For many Americans, the mere mention of the annual feast conjures images of a golden-brown turkey, fresh out of the oven, complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes, casseroles, corn, cranberry sauce, and some good old fashioned pumpkin pie. It is the one national holidays devoted primarily to pleasing the palate. The menus is very similar and could be confused with that partaken at Christmas, in December in many other countries.

The calorie count is matched only by the great deal of symbolism surrounding the original Thanksgiving feast, as well as the annual holiday tradition that has evolved over the past 400 years.







The celebration has religious connotations because these pilgrims sought political asylum to practice their freedom of religion, having been persecuted in England. The right to worship as a basic human entitlement is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an international convention signed in 1948 by most nations all over the world, following the atrocities in World War Two.


Life was hard in the new land. The winter was severe and many of the passengers remained aboard the Mayflower. The ship became a sanctuary for the sick and those who were dying. Many of them died of a combination of contagious diseases. By the end of the first winter, less than half of the crew and passengers were alive. The colony feared they would be attacked by the Native Americans, but the Wampanoag came to their rescue. In return, the settlers almost wiped out the hands that fed them, following resistance to forceful preaching, that tended to supplant native traditions and beliefs.



Squato showed the settlers how to cultivate corn



The Thanksgiving of 1565 was celebrated in what is now St. Augustine, Florida. In the earlier tradition, the Spanish colonizers who hosted it were Catholic, and they gave thanks to God, as Catholics do, for their safe passage and arrival in the New World.

The Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians celebrated their first Thanksgiving – a three-day affair of eating, fishing, hunting, and entertainment – in November 1621. After an unforgiving winter in 1620, which decimated their population, the Pilgrims sought help from the natives, who taught them how to hunt, fish and plant crops. The colonists then shared a feast with the Wampanoag in celebration of their first successful autumn harvest.






In 1789, George Washington declared a day of thanksgiving to acknowledge “the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.” Washington set the day aside for Americans to give thanks for their newly established government, but most of all, to render unto God “sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection.”

Abraham Lincoln later codified this rich heritage of cultural exchange and unity when he made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 at the height of the Civil War, as the 16th American President. “He was saying that enemies could sit down together and meet over food.”





SETTLEMENT - The Pilgrims built thatched cottages, somewhat influenced by the Long Houses of the Wapanoag.



Many dishes which have become synonymous with Thanksgiving were not eaten during that first feast. Nonetheless, these holiday staples serve as deeply ingrained symbols of American cuisine. The Pilgrims and Wampanoag probably dined on duck, lobster and codfish. Turkeys became a symbol of American eating, as one of the wonders in the New World, now imported back to England for Christmas celebrations. The best known, or common turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), is a native game bird of North America that has been widely domesticated for the table.





TURKEY - A traditional dish served with pumpkins, corn and other trimmings at Thanksgiving is also the menu mostly associated with Christmas, a month later in December. Another religion based ceremony, involving the partaking of game birds.





Having read the account above, you may wonder that the name Mayflower could be taken as a seed that stifles and enslaves like a virus, wiping out all resistance to local custom and tradition. One might argue that Missionaries have a lot to answer for, in the methods used in conversion, amounting to brain washing, rather than teaching to enlighten. Where Henry VIII rebelled against the Church of Rome, he would not tolerate dissidents, proving himself to be a
dictator and a hypocrite, in prosecuting those who voiced alternative views. In such circumstances, and if there was a new land of opportunity, you might get into a boat and try and find a better life.


On 16 September 1620, the Mayflower set sail with approximately 30 crew and 102 passengers on board, the Speedwell having been declared un-seaworthy. Almost half of them were Separatists, or “Saints”. They had chosen this name to emphasize the fact that they were part of a specific group with particular views. All others were referred to as “Strangers”, as this is how the Saints regarded anyone who was not part of their group, and did not understand their faith. The 'Strangers' were a group of skilled workers who were sent along by the investors to help build the colony.


The original wooden 30-meter Mayflower took 66 days to carry the Pilgrims, Founding Fathers from the U.K. to what is now the U.S.












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