Thanksgiving is a very important holiday in present-day American culture. People all throughout America take extra care to make this day a memorable and happy celebration. This tradition has been in the American lifestyle since 1621 when it first started. Even though this tradition has been altered and changed the significance and meaning remains the same. The first Thanksgiving was an important landmark and made a huge imprint in the American culture today.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the English Separatists who had come to the new world. They came traveling on the mayflower to escape England for religious freedom. Many of the Separatists, often called pilgrims, suffered many hardships on the way to the new world. Even when they finally reached their destination they found things to be difficult. Separatists should not to be taken lightly, though the journey was hard they stuck with it. Richard Hakluyt said, ‘“We are well weaned from the delicate milk of our mother country, and inured the difficulties of a strange and hard land, which yet in a great part we have by patience overcome . . .’” (qtd. in Philbrick 6). After the Pilgrims arrived they picked land by rivers with good planting area and called it Plymouth. A harsh winter came quickly upon the Pilgrims where they faced many hardships before spring relieved them. Now was their time to plant and prepare for the oncoming year. They did not know the land well and many people say that the only reason they survived was because a local Indian, named Squanto, helped them and taught them the ways of his people. Soon the settlers had much of their planting done.
Harvest Time was here and was changing the face of the Separatist attitude. After such a hard winter the harvest gave the men a desire to rejoice. “Our harvest being gotten in our Governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a more sepeciall manner reioyce together . . .[sic]” (Winslow 133). Truthfully it was not a Thanksgiving, which would have been solemn and prayerful. It was a Harvest Festival (Schwarz 1). They celebrated their great success in their first year in the New World.
The Harvest Festival lasted three days, which the Pilgrims shared with the local Indians, the Wampanoags. They ate all manner of fowl, venison, fish, nuts, and berries. Lacking dairy products, flour, and sugar their meal was quite different from Americans today. The women did all the cooking while the men smoked and drank (Schwarz 1). There were around ninety Wampanoag Indians and around fifty settlers. A peace treaty had been signed...