Happy Turkey Day or perhaps Fowl and Deer Day

Posted By on November 24, 2011

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Who would have thought that we would adopt the folksy term Turkey Day for Thanksgiving considering the first pilgrims and Wampanoaq Indians most likely didn’t serve turkey. I figured there might have been Wild Turkey? Perhaps not according to most historians.

The account we have of the feast — Mourt’s Relation by Edward Winslow and William Bradford – is a journal chronicling the first settlers in Plymouth; it sort of indicates what was being served. The journal reveals that four of the settlers went “fowling,” likely for ducks and geese (noted from reports of previous hunts),  and that the native Americans brought deer … “five” to be exact. Besides the missing turkey … there weren’t any potatoes  as they were suspected of being poisonous. What was  likely served with the “fowl and venison” were onions, cabbage, squash and corn. One classic that we do retain is pumpkin, although at my house it is served as pie (doubtful in that form at the first Thanksgiving).

You shall understand, that in this little time, that a few of us have been here, we have built seven dwelling-houses, and four for the use of the plantation, and have made preparation for divers others.  We set the last spring some twenty acres of Indian corn, and sowed some six acres of barley and peas, and according to the manner of the Indians, we manured our ground with herrings or rather shads, which we have in great abundance, and take with great ease at our doors.  Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown, they came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom.

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after have a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain, and others.  And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

LINK

After pondering that the first settlers were “thankful” for far less of a scrumptious feast in Massachusetts … all of us Americans should be “extremely thankful” for what we have … even in this difficult economy.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy Turkey Day, of which 40-million will be served today … and be thankful for our many blessings we have in the United States of America.

An interesting controversy:

For some scholars, the jury is still out on whether the feast at Plymouth really constituted the first Thanksgiving in the United States. Indeed, historians have recorded other ceremonies of thanks among European settlers in North America that predate the Pilgrims’ celebration. In 1565, for instance, the Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilé invited members of the local Timucua tribe to a dinner in St. Augustine, Florida, after holding a mass to thank God for his crew’s safe arrival. On December 4, 1619, when 38 British settlers reached a site known as Berkeley Hundred on the banks of Virginia’s James River, they read a proclamation designating the date as “a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

Some Native Americans and others take issue with how the Thanksgiving story is presented to the American public, and especially to schoolchildren. In their view, the traditional narrative paints a deceptively sunny portrait of relations between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, masking the long and bloody history of conflict between Native Americans and European settlers that resulted in the deaths of millions. Since 1970, protesters have gathered on the day designated as Thanksgiving at the top of Cole’s Hill, which overlooks Plymouth Rock, to commemorate a “National Day of Mourning.” Similar events are held in other parts of the country.

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Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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