Thanksgiving is a holiday everyone knows the history for. The Pilgrims went on the Mayflower, landed at Plymouth Rock and then learned how to live off the land thanks to the help of the Native Americans, particularly Squanto. And while parts of that story are true, there are plenty of myths that accompany our ideas of Thanksgiving.
Here are seven myths you probably believe about Thanksgiving:
1. It Took Place in November
Considering we celebrate Thanksgiving in November, you’d think that the first one took place in November as well. Not true. Historians say it took place in late September or early October, when the harvest was brought in.
When you think of Pilgrims, you probably imagine those large hats with buckles and everyone dressed in black. That’s actually not at all how Pilgrims dressed, simply how artists portrayed them in the 19th century since those forms of clothing were considered old-fashioned.
3. They Ate Turkey
We eat turkey at Thanksgiving, so presumably the Pilgrims did as well! Nope, not true. The main dish at the feast was deer, and while there are some mentions from Pilgrim journals and diaries about bird hunting before the first Thanksgiving, there’s no evidence it was turkey. And even if it was, it was probably a side dish.
4. “First Thanksgiving”
The first Thanksgiving refers to the 1621 gathering of Pilgrims and Native Americans where a big feast was held to celebrate the harvest. However, many cultures held similar feasts after the harvest, not just pilgrims. It wasn’t until the 1830’s that people began tying the Pilgrim feast to Thanksgiving traditions.
5. The Pilgrims Weren’t Pilgrims
Speaking of Pilgrims, the Pilgrims weren’t actually Pilgrims. The common myth is that the Pilgrims had to leave England to escape religious persecution. But they could’ve just as easily set up in Holland, where they were accepted. The “Pilgrims” only went to America seeking money and fortune, like many colonists at the time. They also referred to themselves as “Saints,” not Pilgrims. It’s actually the Puritans, who are not the same thing as Pilgrims, who went to America seeking religious freedom.
6. Plymouth Rock
The Pilgrims famously got off the Mayflower and stepped onto the American continent at Plymouth Rock. Except it’s probably BS. The legend comes from a man who told the story more than 100 years after the Pilgrims arrived. In fact, the Pilgrims didn’t even land at Plymouth. They landed at a place called Provincetown instead.
7. Pilgrims Hated Fun
We often confuse Puritans and Pilgrims, and assume that Pilgrims were straight-laced and had no fun. That’s not true, and there was actually tons of drinking and shooting competitions at the first Thanksgiving. In fact, Puritans are also incorrectly portrayed as hating fun as well.