Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’
(This is a reprint of a November 24, 2011 article by Jane Bailey Bain. Jane is an author and anthropologist, currently teaching mythology in West London.)
Thanksgiving is a time of praise and plenty. Surrounded by friends and family, we celebrate the fruits of the past year. But what did this feast mean to the first inhabitants of America?
The Pilgrim Fathers landed at Cape Cod on 21st November 1620. They came ashore at Provincetown, just inside the tip of the rocky headland. It was not a good place to found a colony: a few days later they moved the boat to New Plymouth, Massachusets. The winter weather in this new world was worse than their wildest dreams. They crowded back aboard the boat and lived there for the next three months.
These early settlers were English folk. They were not Puritans; the Founding Mothers (of whom we hear less) wore colourful dresses with full skirts. They were not Quakers, so-named several decades later. They were Protestant Dissenters, leaving their homeland for the freedom to worship God in their own way.
The passenger lists of the Mayflower give 102 names: a mixture of men, women and children (including several fosterlings of illegitimate birth). The Mayflower was a merchant ship, square-rigged with three masts, about 100ft long and 25ft wide, sailed by about 28 crew. The quarters were cramped enough during the nine-week voyage; almost unbearable in the three months that followed. The people were weakened by hunger and disease. Half of those on board died during that first terrible winter. Read the rest of this entry »