Time Travel on the Quintessential American Holiday
Thanksgiving evokes images of Norman Rockwell family reunions, tables groaning under feasts of turkey and the trimmings, and historic associations of the Pilgrims and the Indians.
Although a number of cities claim to have hosted the original Thanksgiving, Americans will always associate the first permanent settlement of Plymouth as the site of the documented 1621 dinner the Pilgrims celebrated with ninety male representatives of their Wamponoag neighbors, a year after the settlers had fled religious persecution in England. Today at Plimoth Plantation you can find out what really happened when you visit the Pilgrims at the 1621 Village and the Wamponoag people at Hobbamock’s Homesite.
The museum holds several dinners centered around the Thanksgiving holiday. In October and November, visitors can participate in dinners hosted by costumed interpreters portraying 17th-century English colonists.
At the period dinner, visitors sit down to a “groaning board” filled with surprisingly tasty fare including seethed mussels, sauced turkey, roasted chine of pork, fricassee of fish, stewed pompion (a sweet pudding of Indian corn), and other early New England favorites. Particularly for families with children, the Plimoth Plantation experience is not complete without a visit to Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II, a full-scale re-creation of the original 106-foot-long ship that landed first at the site of present-day Provincetown on Cape Cod, then headed across to Plymouth in December 1620.
Though looming large in the nation’s history, the ship is actually startlingly small considering the rough sixty-six-day voyage it undertook in transporting 102 passengers and their supplies to a new life in the then recently named “New England.”