The American image of Thanksgiving is much different from the historical facts. The American vision is a big happy celebration with many people sitting around a long, wooden table. This, sadly, is not historically accurate at all. In this essay I will explain the current American’s Thanksgiving story as well as the historically accurate version. Today, Thanksgiving in America consists of big family gatherings, plentiful food, and giving thanks. One of the more obvious differences between the current Thanksgiving and the first on is the food. Today, everyone has an electric oven to bake breads, pies, and cakes. In the early American days electricity had not been invented yet.
This meant that cooking meat was long, tedious, and over a fire. The early pilgrims and Native Americans had no way to bake all the foods we have today. In the earlier days, the people would hunt their food. The first Thanksgiving probably consisted of wild turkey, deer, fowl, and fish. This is very different from the big, farm-raised, store-bought turkeys that sit on our tables today. If you ask any elementary student, they will describe Thanksgiving as many happy pilgrims and Indians around a big table with plenty of food to go around. This, again, is incorrect. The Native Americans and pilgrims were quite hostile during this time. Several pilgrims had died by cause of disease and malnutrition. Many of the Native Americans had also been killed off because of Indian raids from the pilgrims.
Some fragments of the current American’s story of the first Thanksgiving are correct. The famous Native American, Squanto did help the pilgrims learn how to plant food. He was there, helping create peace between the two groups of people. The pilgrims were very thankful for Squanto and his help, as we give thanks today. The meal eaten at the first Thanksgiving was similar to the Thanksgiving meal we eat today, with few differences. They ate wild turkey, along with other hunted meat and vegetables.
The differences between the American’s view of the first Thanksgiving and the historically accurate version are abundant. The pilgrims and Native Americans were very hostile toward each other at the time of the first Thanksgiving. Food was not as plentiful as it seems. There were far less people than thought at the first Thanksgiving due to disease, malnourishment, and Indian raids.