A Calvinist Thanksgiving actually did occur in 1623 and did not involve sharing food with the Native Americans. But in the fall of 1621 the feast lasted three days. Approximately 50 Native Americans attended this feast which included Massasoit and Squanto - the Pilgrim's translator. 52 Pilgrims attended the first Thanksgiving, including John Alden, William Bradford, Priscilla Mullins, and Miles Standish. According to Edward Winslow, a participant in the first Thanksgiving, the feast consisted of corn, barley, fowl including wild turkeys and waterfowl, and venison. Mashed potatoes, popcorn, milk, corn on the cob, and cranberries were not foods present on the first feast table. Rather Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast. And the pilgrims didn't use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers.
While it is now a Thanksgiving staple, pumpkin pie was not served at the first Thanksgiving, nor was it invented by the Pilgrims. The first recipe for pumpkin pie wasn't published until 1685, when it appeared in Robert May's The Accomplisht Cook. The first recipe for the pumpkin pie we enjoy today appeared in 1796, in American Cookery by Ameila Simmons. Mmmm...pie...
Another side note:
While most Americans think of the Pilgrims as celebrating the first Thanksgiving in America, there are some claims that others in the New World should be recognized as first. For example, in Texas there is a marker that says, "Feast of the First Thanksgiving – 1541."
- The first national celebration of Thanksgiving was declared in 1775 by the Continental Congress. This was to celebrate the win at Saratoga during the American Revolution. However, this was not an annual event. Prior to 1863, the President of the United States would make an annual proclamation of which day Thanksgiving would be held.
- In 1863, two national days of Thanksgiving were declared: One celebrated the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg. The other began the Thanksgiving holiday we still celebrate today. Sarah Josepha Hale, an American magazine editor, persuaded Abraham Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She is also the author of the popular nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb". Abraham Lincoln issued a 'Thanksgiving Proclamation' on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving.
- In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November, to stimulate the economy by lengthening the holiday shopping season.
- In 1941, Congress stated that from then on, Thanksgiving would take place on the fourth Thursday in November, ensuring that all Americans would celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year.
Plus, did you know turkey was the first meal enjoyed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin when they were on the moon.
Now you can be the talk of your dinner table this holiday — a perfect turkey tidbit to impress holiday dinner guests.