Thursday, November 24, 2011

Top 5 Thanksgiving Myths

Graphics by Maree Truelove

Like most legends, the story of America's first Thanksgiving has changed over time to include some not-so-accurate details. Is it a big deal? Meh. To be honest, I don't think it matters really if my kids go around drawing pictures of Pilgrims wearing big hats with buckles, or Native Americans with feathered headbands.  

I do try to take the time to research what we're studying, and I try to present the whole truth - with consideration as to what is appropriate for my kids' ages. They are 5 and 7. At this stage, I'm not making them memorize dates and other cold facts. I'm simply sharing the stories so that when they study the history in greater detail later, they'll be able to proceed with confidence knowing that they already know some of the story, and that they (hopefully!) enjoyed learning about it the first time!

Here, then, are five Thanksgiving myths we were surprised to discover...

5) Sorry - no sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie! The Pilgrims didn't have a clue about sweet potatoes at this point. And since there was no sugar, pies and (cranberry) sauces were out of the question. (PS - Did you know the Spanish word for sweet potatoes is "camotes?")

4) Los peregrinos, or the Pilgrims, did not walk around in black clothes wearing hats with buckles. According to, "Buckles did not come into fashion until later in the seventeenth century and black and white were commonly worn only on Sunday and formal occasions. Women typically dressed in red, earthy green, brown, blue, violet, and gray, while men wore clothing in white, beige, black, earthy green, and brown."

3) The Pilgrims first landed at Plymouth Rock. Actually, they first landed at Cape Cod. But they didn't like the area, so they kept looking until they found a good harbor, land, and a freshwater river.

2) The Native Americans lived in teepees. The Wampanoags actually lived in wetus ("WEE-toos"), rounded structures covered with woven grasses.

1) America's first true Thanksgiving actually occurred 56 years prior to Plymouth Rock, in the town of St. Augustine, Florida. (I mean, it makes sense, no? Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492. You'd think someone would have had a feast of thanksgiving in the 100+ years that followed, wouldn't you?) The event in St. Augustine took place between a group of Spanish conquistadores - led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés - and the Timucua Indians. The preferred language at the historic event was actually Spanish, not English! And the main dish? Why frijoles, of course!

From the MommyMaestra family to yours...may you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Un abrazo fuerte,


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