Thanksgiving Dinner: What was On The Menu?
What did the Pilgrims eat at the very first Thanksgiving in the year 1621?
Was it pumpkin pie and stuffed turkey? No, it wasn’t!
The Pilgrims definitely ate at Thanksgiving
We do know certain Thanksgiving dinner items from a letter that a Pilgrim man named Edward
Winslow wrote in 1621.
Wheat, corn, and barley – but no peas
“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”
*Note: to the Pilgrims, “corn” is what we call “wheat”.
To the Pilgrims, “Indian corn” is what we call “corn”
Waterfowl (ducks and geese)
“ Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling”
“…king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and
they went out and killed fi ve deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our
Things we think the Pilgrims probably ate at Thanksgiving
We know from records of Mayfl ower Pilgrims certain things that were native to Plymouth or
that they grew in their colony.
Seafood ( fi sh, lobster, eels, clams, mussels)
Nuts (walnuts, chestnuts, acorns)
The Original Thanksgiving
Many cultures all over the world hold festivals or ceremonies to celebrate the fall harvest. But
Thanksgiving was a real event in America in 1621 – that’s almost 400 years ago!
The Pilgrims fi rst came to North America on the ship The Mayfl ower in 1620, landing
in what is now Massachusetts. Taking such a long journey to such a cold climate was hard on
their health, and almost half of those fi rst Pilgrims died of scurvy and pneumonia.
Because the Pilgrims brought germs from Europe that were unknown in the New World,hundreds of Native Americans also got sick and died.
Times were very tough.
The Pilgrims might not have survived if they had not met one
person who changed American history:
the Native American Tisquantum,known to us as Squanto.
Squanto had a lot happen to him in life. As a youth, Squanto was kidnapped by English
merchants who were exploring the New World. They took him to England, where he learned
English and was used as an interpreter and guide in North America by the Plymouth Company.
While he was back in the New World he was kidnapped again by an English trader.
He was shipped to Spain to be sold as a slave, but was taken in by some Spanish friars. Squanto
sailed back to America only to discover that every single person in his tribe had died of plague.
He lived in another Wampanoag village until he heard the Pilgrims had landed.
The first Thanksgiving
The Pilgrims were in danger of starving. Squanto taught them how to fertilize and grow
corn and barley, and where to fi sh. In the fall, the harvest was plentiful. The Pilgrims elected a
governor named William Bradford who proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for the bounty.
Hunters from the colony brought geese and ducks (what, no turkey?).
Fish, lobster,clams, dried fruit and corn were also on the menu.
The Pilgrims invited the Wampanoag chief!
T’was the night of Thanksgiving,
But I just couldn’t sleep.
I tried counting backwards,
I tried counting sheep.
The leftovers beckoned,
The dark meat and white.
But I fought the temptation,
With all of my might.
Tossing and turning,
The thought of a snack
So I raced to the kitchen,
Flung open the door,
And gazed at the fridge,
Full of goodies galore.
I gobbled up turkey,
And buttered potatoes,
Pickles and carrots,
Beans and tomatoes.
I felt myself swelling,
So plump and so round.
‘til all of a sudden,
I rose off the ground.
I crashed through the ceiling,
Floating into the sky,
With a mouthful of pudding,
And a handful of pie.
But I managed to yell
As I soared past the trees
Happy eating to all,
Pass the cranberries, please!!
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious,
May your pies take the prize
And May your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off of your thighs!
T is for the trust the pilgrims had so many years ago
H is for the harvest the settlers learnt to grow
A is for America, the land in which we live
N is for nature and beauty which she gives
K is for kindness, gentle words, thoughtful deeds
S is for smiles, the sunshine everyone needs
G is for gratitude… our blessings big and small
I is for ideas, letting wisdom grow tall
V is for voices, singing, laughing, always caring
I is for Indians, who taught them about sharing
N is for neighbors, across the street, over the sea
G is for giving of myself to make a better me
by Judith.A. Lindberg
A balm to bathe the wounded heart
Where sorrow’s hand hath lain,
The link divine from soul to soul
That makes us one in pain,
Sweet sympathy, benignant ray,
Light of the soul doth shine;
In it is human nature givin
A touch of the divine.
The Little Pilgrim
Cranberries dripping down my chin
Have stained my pilgrim suit.
I ate too much Thanksgiving day
But I don’t give a hoot.
I slurped a pile of dressing,
Gobbled down a turkey thigh,
Dribbled messy cranberries
Devoured some pumpkin pie.
Week before Thanksgiving,
I limp around real strange.
Huddle in the corner,
As though I have the mange.
All the other turkeys,
Just gobble, gobble on.
I’m silent, and I act
As if my gobbler’s gone. Everyone is thankful
On Thanksgiving Day.
Friday it’s forgotten.
You all go on your way.
I know what thankful is
So listen when I say.
“It’s great to be a turkey,
After Thanksgiving Day.”
The Pilgrims Came
The Pilgrims came across the sea,
And never thought of you and me;
And yet it’s very strange the way
We think of them Thanksgiving Day.
We tell their story old and true
Of how they sailed across the blue,
And found a new land to be free
And built their homes quite near the sea.
The people think that they were sad,
And grave; I’m sure that they were glad –
They made Thanksgiving Day – that’s fun –
We thank the Pilgrims every one!
by Annette Wynne
It’s That Time, Again
The days are getting shorter now.
I feel a snow flake on my brow.
The leaves are crackling as I run,
The squirrels’ searching almost done.
The turkey’s restless in the pen,
Oh! No! I see my breath again!
It makes a person take a pause
And think about old Santa Claus!!!
In the year of 1620
on a cold Decembre day
a hundred and two pilgrims
sailed into Plymouth Bay.
Still wary from their voyage –
still gacing winter’s chill –
they kept their sights on freedom
with courage, work, and will.
Pilgrims did not stop to think
of riches, fame, or glory
while bravely playing starring roles
in our new nation’s story
by Bobbi Katz
When all the leaves are off the boughs,
And nuts and apples gathered in,
And cornstalks waiting for the cows,
And pumpkins safe in barn and bin,
Then Mother says, “My children dear,
The fields are brown, and autumn flies;
Thanksgiving Day is very near,
And we must make thanksgiving pies!”
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway —
Thanksgiving comes again!
The First Thanksgiving
When the Pilgrims
first gathered together to share
with their Indian friends
in the mild autumn air,
they lifted the voices
in jubilant praise
for the bread on the table,
the berries and maize,
for field and for forest,
for turkey and deer,
for the bountiful crops
they were blessed with that year.
They were thankful for these
as they feasted away,
and as they were thankful
we’re thankful today.
For the hay and the corn and the wheat that is reaped,
For the labor well done, and the barns that are heaped,
For the sun and the dew and the sweet honeycomb,
For the rose and the song and the harvest brought home —
For the trade and the skill and the wealth in our land,
For the cunning and strength of the workingman’s hand,
For the good that our artists and poets have taught,
For the friendship that hope and affection have brought —
For the homes that with purest affection are blest,
For the season of plenty and well-deserved rest,
For our country extending from sea unto sea;
The land that is known as the “Land of the Free” —
A Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt
When and where is Thanksgiving Day celebrated?
What nationality were the first settlers (now called the Pilgrim Fathers) on the
American East coast?
What was the name of the Pilgrim Fathers’ boat?
Where did the Pilgrims start their voyage and where did they arrive?
When did they start their voyage and when did they arrive?
Look up the word harvest in the dictionary and write a sentence to say what they
harvest in your region.
Student worksheet. Name:
A Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt
The Wampanoag were the first Indian people that the Pilgrim Fathers met. What
does the name of the tribe mean?
Today, Indians prefer to be called “—— Americans”.
What does Thanksgiving Day commemorate, and what do people do on that day?
What food do people have for Thanksgiving, nowadays?
Thanksgiving is composed of two words. Write them down. In your opinion, what
does the word “thanksgiving” mean?