Thanksgiving Myths and Truths


Alysa Krieger

Everybody has different beliefs about Thanksgiving. Some people believe it was a “peace time” between Pilgrims and Indians and others do not.

Here at The Clarion we took the liberty to find out some myths about Thanksgiving.

The first myth on our list is the Pilgrims and Indians relationship. In the 1600’s the relationship between the pilgrims and Indians was extremely violent. When the pilgrims landed in Plymouth they gave the Indians smallpox, which wiped out the village of Wampanoag. Squanto was a member of the Wampanoag tribe and is mainly known as the guy who helped aid the pilgrims, but what you don’t know is that they actually captured him and sold him into slavery in Spain in 1614. Squanto learned English and escaped slavery only to come back and discover his whole tribe was killed. In 1621 there was a celebration, but it did not go over well. This event caused the Wampanoag and the pilgrims relationship to deteriorate even more and would ultimately lead to the Pequot War in 1637.

Next up, is the theory when the first Thanksgiving took place. Thanksgiving has been an on and off holiday since 1789 and is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving did not become an official national holiday until 1863. Back in the 1600’s it was originally called a harvest feast and was usually celebrated in September or early October.

The food served at the first Thanksgiving wasn’t turkey and mashed potatoes like it is in the 21st century. When the first Thanksgiving was celebrated, the Wampanoag brought 5 deer as a gift and the settlers provided the vegetables. This event was the harvest celebration and lasted 3 days. The English also sent letters back home explaining that the Indians were illegally killing the deer. The other food that was served was seafood, cornbread, and squash.

Last up on our list is the fact that Thanksgiving isn’t just celebrated in the United States. Most people are aware that Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving, but what you might not know is Germany, Japan, South Korea, and China also celebrate Thanksgiving. In Canada, Thanksgiving is the first Monday of October. In Japan, the rice harvest is celebrated by Labor Thanksgiving Day, which is all about giving thanks for the worker’s rights. Germany gives thanks with a fall harvest with Erntedankfest. Erntedankfest is less family related and more parades, fireworks, music, and dancing.

With all this information it is hard to tell what can be true and what is not true. Even though we may never know what the real first Thanksgiving was like, we at least will know some myths and truths behind the famed holiday.