This holiday weekend I got to thinking about Thanksgiving and how it’s always associated with the iconic roast turkey feast. Being a vegetarian for almost two decades now, I lost much of that meaning, so I decided to take a closer look and see if Thanksgiving was always about having a turkey dinner.
Wild turkeys are native to North American forests. They were accidentally misidentified as guinea-fowl or “turkey fowl” by the first European settlers, giving these birds the name “turkey”. Guinea-fowl were originally brought to Europe through Turkey from Africa.
The celebration of Thanksgiving itself has a combination of sources. In England there were “Days of Thanksgiving”, celebrations in the 1500′s and 1600′s giving acknowledgment to God for miraculous events; and there were harvest feasts in a wide array of cultures to celebrate a bountiful harvest.
Thanksgiving in the United States is commonly traced back to a 1621 fall harvest celebrated in Plymouth, Massachusetts by early English settlers (including 35 Pilgrims) who survived the ocean voyage and their first North American winter. Landing at “Plimouth” Harbor on the Mayflower in the dead of winter 1620, nearly half of the 102 settlers perished from malnutrition, exposure and illness. It appears only by raiding local Indian stores, finding seed left behind in farmed areas, and technical assistance by native Americans did they survive at all. Subsequent to a peace treaty signed with Indians in the area, a major feast was held celebrating the harvest of 1621.
In November 1621, after their first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for a three day feast. The Wampanoag Indians are said to have brought five deer as an offering to this feast. 1
After reading up a little on the old traditions, my thoughts wandered back to my own successes, friendships, and much appreciated gifts received over the past year. Actually, I don’t wait for a holiday to celebrate all the great people and events in my life. I try to appreciate them more and more, as every day itself seems like a new opportunity. Even writing this paragraph comes as a result of the Nuttimilk project started by my close friends Kevin and Vonetta. I also want to add thanks to You for your support sharing our website with your friends and family. So, here’s wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Fun Fact: Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts was named after Plymouth, England; a major port town about 10 miles from Paignton, England the hometown of Kevin Shuker, co-founder of Nuttimilk.com.