Our modern concept of Thanksgiving is one of excess and gluttony, filled with massive piles of turkey, potatoes, and images of Pilgrims with gaudy hat buckles. But this holiday actually started out very differently. How much do you know about Thanksgiving history myths?
Question of 10
The year was 1621. What did the New World settlers call themselves at the time of the first Thanksgiving?
We use the term "pilgrims" as a blanket term for all of those early settlers. But they didn’t use that word to describe themselves. These separatist Protestants fleeing religious oppression in Europe called themselves "saints."
Which of the following foods was NOT served at the first Thanksgiving?
Back in the 1620s, there was no sweet corn being grown in the area of the first Thanksgiving. But there would've been plenty of clams, oysters and cranberries.
At the first Thanksgiving, the settlers feasted on which animal product?
Historians aren't sure if turkey was featured at the first Thanksgiving. But they know the settlers devoured deer, thanks in large part to animals provided by local Native Americans.
In the 19th century, Thanksgiving was made an official holiday in large part to celebrate what aspect of the country's history?
the success of the first permanent colony
the election of President Andrew Jackson
Union Civil War victories
Americans unofficially celebrated Thanksgiving for decades. But it wasn't until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln made it an official holiday, one meant to mark vital Union wins in the American Civil War.
What's the reason you feel so sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal?
Your brain's serotonin levels plummet.
You simply ate too much!
For years, pop culture perpetuated the myth that tryptophan — an amino acid found in turkey flesh — was responsible for your post-meal fatigue. But it's really the overload of calories (and the beer and wine) that make you feel sleepy.
It's the tryptophan in the turkey.
In the 17th century, what was the idea behind Thanksgiving?
It recognized the King of England as a great leader.
It was meant to celebrate the harvest.
Thankgiving wasn't a pig-out session in the 1600s. It was a celebration of the annual harvest — and it was actually a day of fasting, not a 24-hour buffet of extravagant gluttony.
It was to celebrate the survival of the first settlers.
OK, but what was the atmosphere of that first Thanksgiving in the New World?
a bit wild and raucous
The settlers played games, gambled and "exercised arms" (shot guns) during their three days of feasting and merrymaking at that first Thanksgiving.
solemn and prayerful
Pumpkin pie was not on the menu at the first Thanksgiving. Why not?
No one made pies in the 17th century.
Pumpkins were considered blasphemous vegetables.
There was no butter for crust.
The settlers surely would've loved to make pumpkin pie. But in those first lean years they didn't have even simple butter, which would've been necessary in making a pie crust.
When did the first Thanksgiving festivals take place?
By late November, winter weather got real in a hurry and people were too busy worrying about survival to celebrate. So the harvest celebration took place at the end of September or in early October, before the snow flew.
After their fun fall festival in 1621, why didn't the settlers repeat the big bash in 1622?
The harvest that year was terrible.
When the harvest was plentiful, Thanksgiving was a fabulously fun fall fiesta. When crops failed, there was no party because settlers were dreading the hungry winter days ahead.
They sailed back to England.
They were all dead.