There were only 102 passengers on board the Mayflower in 1620. A small band of people looking for freedom of religious expression, prosperity and land ownership packed onto the ships with high hopes of a new life. It took 66 dangerous days to cross from England, and they dropped anchor in Cape Cod. One month later, the ship crossed Massachusetts Bay and the settlers planned to stay, to establish their new village at Plymouth.
The first winter was harsh; and only half of the original voyagers made it until spring, ravaged by exposure and disease. Most settlers actually stayed on the ship through the winter; when they came ashore, they were greeted by an Abenaki Indian, who quite surprisingly, spoke English. He returned the next day with Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe. Squanto was instrumental in teaching the Pilgrims how to grow corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in local waters, and identify poisonous plants.
When the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest was successful, Governor William Bradford was inspired to hold a feast to celebrate. Among the guests were their new Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. The party lasted 3 days, and although they likely didn’t call it Thanksgiving. November of 1621 marks the first time the holiday was observed.
All these years later, we still celebrate to give thanks for the “harvest” in our lives – whether it be our families, friends, jobs or homes. Although the menus have changed – the first meal was rumored to include seal and lobster – the scene is often the same. People gather around their tables to be together, to express appreciation and to celebrate the good things in life. Many traditions remain as well – the colors, the cornucopia – and the food!
As we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, welcome your guests with an autumn wreath and a seasonal centerpiece for the harvest table. Ah Sam Florist offers stylish designs for the perfect arrangement, decor and hostess gifts for a holiday with family, friends and more.