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The first Thanksgiving feast in the New World can be traced back to the 1621 autumn harvest celebration by European pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians at Plymouth colony, Massachusetts. Since then, traditional feasting became a vital part of Thanksgiving.
See the fact file below for more information on the Thanksgiving Feast or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Thanksgiving Feast worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
BACKGROUND OF THE FIRST THANKSGIVING
- When the Pilgrims first arrived in the New World, they faced months of hunger. In the winter of 1620, most of the pilgrims lived on the Mayflower and rowed inland during the day to build houses. Half of them died of hunger and illness brought on by the cold winter.
- Squanto, the leader of the Wampanoag Indians, taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate land in the New World. The Pilgrims learned how to grow corn and other crops.
- The Wampanoag Indians were known settlers of the East Coast of the United States over 12,000 years ago. Prior to the Mayflower, which brought the Pilgrims to Massachusetts, they were already visited by a number of European settlers.
- The pilgrims who settled at the Plymouth colony were English Protestants who wanted to break away from the Church of England. They were considered as separatists who tried a new life in Holland but failed financially.
- When funds became available, they sailed across the Atlantic to settle in the New World.
- The Mayflower transported 101 men, women, and children. They crossed the Atlantic in 66 days and settled in what is now Cape Cod.
- In March 1621, the new settlers and Wampanoag Indians came to an agreement to protect the land and each other from other tribes.
- One day, in fall 1621, the Pilgrims prepared for a harvest festival to give thanks for bountiful crops and surviving the winter.
- Edward Winslow, a separatist and chronicler who settled at the Plymouth colony wrote several accounts about the New World, including the first Thanksgiving celebration.
- “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits 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 amongst 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.”
–Edward Winslow, December, 1621.
- According to William Bradford, the first Thanksgiving feast consisted of waterfowl, venison, ham, onions, cabbage, carrots, spinach, beans, peas, lobster, clams, fruit, pumpkin, berries, and squash.
- The inclusion of the Thanksgiving main dish – turkey – in the meal emerged with President Lincoln’s nationalization of Thanksgiving Day in 1863.
- Since 1947, the Nation Turkey Federation has been supplying the White House with a live turkey prior to Thanksgiving. Turkeys were usually slaughtered, cooked, and served for Thanksgiving dinner. In 1963, US President John F. Kennedy officially pardoned a turkey for the first time. Since then, succeeding presidents spare a turkey as a Thanksgiving tradition.
- In non-traditional American households, ham is usually served alongside turkey. Other meats include goose and duck instead of turkey. Roasted turkey is usually stuffed with sage, bread cubes, onion, celery, and carrots.
- Traditional Thanksgiving meals include many side dishes like cranberry sauce, stuffing or dressing, mashed potato with gravy, brussel sprouts, winter squash, corn, and green beans. Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie, mincemeat pie, and sweet potato pie are popular desserts during Thanksgiving.
- Jewish-Americans often serve Hanukkah food during Thanksgiving. It includes noodle kugel and sweet dessert pudding.
- Unfermented apple cider or wine is often served to complete a great Thanksgiving meal.
- A horn shaped basket, called cornucopia, is often filled with bountiful harvest during Thanksgiving. The idea was initiated by the ancient Greeks to give thanks to Zeus.
- Moreover, corn, pumpkin, cranberry, and beans are also vital symbols of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Feast Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Thanksgiving Feast across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Thanksgiving Feast worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Thanksgiving Feast and first Thanksgiving feast in the New World can be traced back to the 1621 autumn harvest celebration by European pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians at Plymouth colony, Massachusetts. Since then, traditional feasting became a vital part of Thanksgiving.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Thanksgiving Feast Facts
- The First Feast
- Thanksgiving Meal
- Maize Maze
- Turkey Day
- Family Dinner
- Turkey Effect
- Meal Hunt
- Meaning of Feast
- Pumpkin Pie Slices
- Symbols of Thanksgiving
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Link will appear as Thanksgiving Feast Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, October 29, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.