By Kim Rendfeld
The first Thanksgiving was a three-day feast, so today would be the equivalent of day two of the 1621 event for what was then an English settlement.
|The First Thanksgiving, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, |
circa 1912 to 1915 (public domain image via Wikimedia Commons)
Many traditions we associate with Thanksgiving are from the 19th century. It wasn’t even an annual holiday until President Abraham Lincoln designated it in 1863.
In the 17th century, the settlers didn’t know they were setting a precedent, which likely occurred between September 21 and November 11. They were just glad to be alive after a year of hunger and hardship, and they wanted to celebrate with food and recreation.
|U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo of wild turkey flock|
The fare was not as portrayed in Standish of Standish: A Story of the Pilgrims, an 1889 novel by Jane Goodwin Austin (an account later taught as part of school curricula). Among other things, Austin describes a long table laden with stew, clam chowder, turnips, oysters, venison, ale and root beer, hasty pudding, and of course a turkey, only stuffed with beechnuts instead of bread.
|USDA photo by Scott Bauer, via Wikimedia Commons|
The tale of two disparate peoples coming together to celebrate has been mythologized over the centuries. Still, I must admit I love this story of friendship and fellowship, even though I feel sorry for the women who had to cook for all those people.
“The First Thanksgiving,” Christian Science Monitor
Butcher & Packer
Eating History, Andrew F Smith
A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove, Laura Schenone
Kim Rendfeld’s novels take place in eighth-century Francia, long before the first Thanksgiving. She is the author of The Cross and the Dragon (2012, Fireship Press) and The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar (forthcoming, Fireship Press). For more about Kim and her fiction, visit kimrendfeld.com or her blog, Outtakes. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.