Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday that celebrates family and being thankful for all the good things we have. It is a day of respite and relaxation, one to be savored. It really makes no difference that the holiday we have all experienced in our lifetimes bears no resemblance to the reality of what is called the first Thanksgiving. So, this post certainly recognizes and celebrates the modern Thanksgiving, but this holiday may top the list of myths. Nothing wrong with myths, of course, but I decided this year’s post would be a little different.
First things first. the first Thanksgiving was not at Plymouth Colony in 1621 and not celebrated by the Pilgrims. There were numerous prior dinners of thanks prior to this, including Jamestown, Virginia (1610 in the spring) that were actually called Thanksgiving. In the 1621 Plymouth Colony festival, it was not called Thanksgiving yet, it was a normal harvest festival such as are celebrated worldwide. But even prior to Jamestown, the Spanish held “thanksgivings” in the 1500s in North America, as did those at Roanoke Colony, North Carolina, circa 1586.
But, somehow, the Plymouth Colony Thanksgiving myth is the one we celebrate today. And it appears that that entire affair is also a
myth, at least in some people’s minds. I cannot verify the authenticity of the following version, but it is interesting and, I suppose, possible. But I have seen no proof and accounts by the colonists do not mention this at all. And, frankly, they had no reason not to mention it if it were true.
According to a spokesman of the modern day Wampanoag Nation, the Indians were not invited. They heard shots and noise and were worried that the colonists might attack them. Much like in places like Afghanistan, people often celebrate with firing weapons, etc. It has gotten quite a few Afghans killed by the coalition, including an entire wedding party. So Chief Massasoit assembled a war party to check things out and prepared to fight if necessary. The colonists explained they were having a harvest festival, but the Indians stayed nearby to make sure that was all it was. They were not invited and things were probably tense rather than the friendly and loving atmosphere portrayed today. Is this version true? Perhaps. Is the version we have been taught true? Probably not. No one will ever really know.
But it is certain that Thanksgiving as we know it is a myth, a nice myth for sure and one we should continue as it brings people together in a positive way, at least these days it does.