By the time you are reading this, you will have begun your Thanksgiving Day festivities. They may even be over already, depending on the particulars of your celebration traditions. The children’s school plays, depicting the pilgrims and their plight, will have been forgotten and many of you may be feeling the effects of overindulgence. It will be a long weekend of rest, family and the enjoyment of living in one of the best places on earth…the Hamptons of New York.
And I will enjoy this time of year just like everyone else except for one thing—I will have a hard time sleeping knowing that many of my neighbors may be misinformed about this holiday we call Thanksgiving and the people who are responsible for its recognition. There is ample data to give us an accurate depiction of the Mayflower voyage and the Pilgrims, but for some reason, we desire to keep the myths versus the truth.
SOME MYTHS OF THANKSGIVING
1. The Pilgrims did not only wear black and white. Inventory—taken for the purposes of probate—of Mayflower passengers that died demonstrates that John Howland had two red waistcoats. William Bradford had a green gown and a violet cloak. William Brewster had green pants and a red cap. So the idea that all Pilgrims were dressed in black and white is wrong.
2. The Pilgrims did not have buckles on their clothing, shoes or hats. Buckles did not come into fashion until the late 1600s.
3. During the famine of 1621, not a single Pilgrim died from famine. There was indeed a shortage of crops that year but there was fish, shellfish, nuts, waterfowl, turkey, deer and other native flora and fauna to sustain them.
4. The Mayflower passengers were not Puritans. They were Separatists. Puritans wanted to purify the Church of England while Separatists wanted to separate entirely from it.
5. The Mayflower passengers were not mostly old men. In fact, only 5 of the 104 passengers were over the age of 50 and only 14 were over the age of 40. At least 30 passengers were under the age of 17. Thirty-one of the passengers were female.
So there you have it. Perhaps next Thanksgiving, you will look at this special time in a more informed way.
Oh yeah…when the Pilgrims referred to Northern Virginia, guess where that included? If you guessed the Hamptons you would be correct. The Virginia Company had rights to most of the eastern seaboard of America. And in the day, that included what is now known as the East End of Long Island.
IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY IN THE HAMPTONS, THE LAND YOU ARE STANDING ON WHILE READING THIS ARTICLE WAS ONCE KNOWN AS VIRGINIA.
Wait a minute.
Does that mean we are really Virginians and not New Yorkers? I think so. Either way, I am going to have a turkey-and -stuffing sandwich and then take a long nap on the couch.
Note: Since some people are of the belief that Mr. Sneiv occasionally tips the bottle while writing, you can find these and other interesting Pilgrim facts in the book Plymouth Colony: Its History and Its People by Eugene