Showing posts with label Pilgrims. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pilgrims. Show all posts

Nov 20, 2015

Pilgrims, Colonists, and Puritans

The word pilgrim was never used by the actual people it describes. It is a myth that pilgrims wore only black and white clothing and had buckles on their hats, garments, and shoes.

The Church of England Separatists living in Plymouth during the 1600s were much more colorful than story books portray. Black and white were commonly worn only on Sunday and formal occasions and women typically dressed in red, earthy green, brown, blue, violet, and gray, while men wore clothing in white, beige, black, earthy green, and brown. Buckles did not come into fashion until late in the seventeenth century.

Colonists (pilgrims and puritans) did not live in log cabins. The log cabin did not appear in America until late in the seventeenth century, when it was introduced by Germans and Swedes. Log cabins were virtually unknown in England at the time the Pilgrims arrived in America. Pilgrims lived in wood clapboard houses made from sawed lumber.

Pilgrims and Puritans were two different groups. The Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and lived in Plymouth. The Puritans, arrived a decade later, settled in Boston, and came to America strictly in search of religious freedom. They did not welcome dissent.

Puritans considered the Pilgrims incurable utopians. While both shared the belief that the Church of England had become corrupt, only the Pilgrims believed it was beyond redemption. They therefore chose the path of Separatism. Puritans held out the hope the church would reform.

Puritans welcomed laughter and upper class dressed in bright colors, but lower classes dressed in dark clothes. The anti-liquor and anti-sex attitudes usually attributed to the Puritans are a nineteenth-century addition to the views of early settlers in New England.

Nov 23, 2013

Pilgrims and Thanksgiving

Pilgrims did not celebrate the first Thanksgiving in America. In fact, the particular Pilgrim event that is often cited as the first Thanksgiving was not even the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving. They had several before at various times and none were celebrated annually. The days were merely a particular time when people had something significant to thank God for, so would set aside a day to do so.

Around the time the Pilgrims came to America in 1620, it was common in England and many parts of Europe to frequently set aside days for giving thanks to God. In the New World, where life was harsh in the beginning, there were numerous opportunities to hold such days of thanks, such as any time a particularly good crop would come in, when drought would end, when a particularly harsh winter was survived, when a group repelled an attack by Native Americans, when a supply ship arrived safely from Europe, etc. Seems like they had many reasons to party.

These celebrations remained fairly common up until the time when Thanksgiving became a national holiday. Most of these celebrations bore little resemblance to what we think of as Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims celebrations bore little resemblance to what is depicted now.

No one knows for sure who actually celebrated the first actual Thanksgiving in America. The most popular examples often referenced as the actual “firsts” include:

  • The day of thanksgiving celebrated in September 1565 by a group of Spaniards lead by Spanish explorer Pedro MenĂ©ndez de AvilĂ©, in Saint Augustine, Florida. Pedro invited the Timucua tribe to dine with them on that Thanksgiving.

  • The group led by Spanish explorer Juan de Onate in 1598 in San Elizario, Texas held a Thanksgiving festival after successfully crossing 350 miles of Mexican desert.

  • The thirty-eight settlers who landed on James River by Jamestown in December 1619. Their charter required that the day of landing be set aside as a day of thanksgiving both on that first date and every year after.

  • The Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving that took place sometime between September and October of 1621.

Thanksgiving Traditions Origin

The Pilgrim Thanksgiving that happened in the fall of 1621 is the most popular reference to the first Thanksgiving in the US. This is largely because of Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and one of the most influential women in American history.

She was particularly enamored with the Pilgrim event she had read about in a passage by William Bradford in 'Of Plymouth Plantation' as well as the particular Thanksgiving tradition which was somewhat common in New England at the time. She tirelessly campaigned for over 20 years to have Thanksgiving become a national holiday with a set date.

Through her highly circulated editorials, she was largely responsible for much of why we view the Pilgrim’s 1621 Thanksgiving how we do and was also largely responsible for many of the traditions we now tend to attribute to that Thanksgiving, even though there are actually only two brief passages that record what happened during the Thanksgiving celebration in 1621.

Things like the tradition of eating turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving were all popularized by her while it is unlikely that the Pilgrims ate any of those things.