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53 Colonists and 90 Wampanoag Can’t Be Wrong

Oct 30, 2017 11:26AM ● By Julie Ross
By Julie Ross

143 people started something big back in 1621.

Then: The founders of the Plymouth Colony held a three-day feast to celebrate their first harvest in the New World. On the menu: swan, duck, turkey, and goose, hunted by the colonists. Attending Wampanoag contributed deer, shellfish, and lobster. Rounding out the menu: corn and pumpkin (not pie).

Now: The feasting tradition has continued, with family and friends gathering together for a big dinner to celebrate and give thanks for their good fortune. On the menu: turkey (more than 80% of Americans have turkey on Thanksgiving), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams, stuffing, gravy, corn, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, with favorite special dishes inserted here and there.

The feast in 1621 spawned other present-day traditions that would have been simply unimaginable 396 years ago. Consider the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and its giant helium balloons featuring characters from Hello Kitty to Angry Birds to Thomas the Tank Engine. Blowing up the 15 large balloons takes 300,000 cubic feet of helium, the approximate volume of three and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools. The North Pole float is the final one in the parade and officially kicks off the holiday shopping season, with Santa arriving to the screams and appeals of children.

Black Friday, when more than 200 million Americans spend billions of dollars at retail establishments over the course of the weekend, seems to weasel its way in earlier and earlier every year. And if you miss out on the Black Friday deals, no worries, because Cyber Monday is just a few ticks of the clock away.

The first Thanksgiving seems so peaceful by comparison: balloon-free, Santa Claus-free, shopping-free. The 53 colonists and 90 Wampanoag had a great idea: a harvest feast with abundant food, friends, and gratitude.

Maybe we can try to keep that spirit of thanksgiving alive. And, if you are the cook this year, note that your guest list is probably quite a bit shorter than the 143 that attended the first Thanksgiving. Plus, there really is no need to serve swan. Two things to be thankful for already!

You can reach Julie at [email protected]


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