|“The First Thanksgiving" (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris|
"It should be noted that while Thanksgiving has become a holiday deeply associated with America, there have been numerous ‘harvest’, autumn, and ‘thanksgiving’ festivals throughout history including Grecian, Roman and Egyptian celebrations.
A day for giving thanks was celebrated by the early English settlers and the Pilgrims who settled in the “New World”. The winter of 1620 was a brutal one (nearly half of those who came over on the Mayflower died). Native Americans took pity on the travelers and taught them survivalist skills, which included planting and harvesting corn, the staple of the area.
And by the grace of God, they were blessed with a bountiful harvest season. The remaining 56 colonists were so grateful that they held a three-day festival to express their appreciation and gratitude . They invited Squanto and the leader of the Wampanoags, Chief Massasoit, along with 90 natives who had helped them survive their first year."
The first Thanksgiving more than likely had venison, ducks, and geese along with fish, clams, lobster and corn. Lacking flour, there wouldn’t have been rolls. Pumpkin pie hadn’t been invented yet, and cranberries weren’t native to the area. No mashed potatoes, either. Europeans of the day were suspicious of potatoes.
Jahnavi closes with, "It is a wonderful thing to have an attitude of gratitude–not just one day of the year, but every day. And if not every day - then let us at least remember to be grateful on the day that is set aside for this purpose. Thanksgiving: it really isn’t about the turkey, after all…."