It’s 1621, the year of the very first Thanksgiving festival. The Pilgrim Fathers have gathered to celebrate the first harvest in their newly settled lands of Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts. In a magnanimous gesture, the settlers invite their Native American brethren to feast on turkey, pie and sweet potato. Sound familiar? Shockingly, much of the tale is actually fake history.
Before we examine the true story of what happened in the lead-up to the first Thanksgiving, let’s just remind ourselves of how central the institution has become to traditional American culture. Looking back in history, we can track the idea of having a special day of thanksgiving to the Pilgrims who settled in America from England in the early 17th century.