In Britain, their day of thanksgiving, which has existed since it pagan roots, is usually set on a Sunday, close to the Autumn equinox and the Harvest moon. Here in the United States, we celebrate our Thanksgiving the last Thursday of November. Along with the Turkey, stuffing and pecan pie, the over played and mythological story of the first Thanksgiving with the Purtians, is drilled into our heads. From an early age the story is hailed as the first Thanksgiving ever and what great friends these god fearing folk were to the natives that were here first.
The Purtians Pilgrim
Often depicted in the traditional pilgrim get up, of the buckle hats and shoes for men and the apron on the waste and head of the pilgrim women. This did not at all depicted all or most Pilgrims, even during that time period.
The truth was, they were religious zealots, who couldn't handle the other sectors of Christianity that held onto more of its pagan roots, such as Christmas. These are the ancestors of those who took part in the Salem Witch trails, just over seventy years later. They were known for being oppressive to themselves and to all those they came in contact with. They were Europe's West Barrow Baptist church.
Divorce the Purtian from the main concept of Pilgrim
The Purtains, however flawed they were, did bring the concept of the Pilgrim to the tradition of thanksgiving. The term Pilgrim means
"a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons."
To say they had a tough time when they first arrived would be an understatement. They established relations with the natives, who took pity upon them and showed them how to survive. There was a dinner in Thanksgiving and then shorty after that, the two sides were at war. The Purtians very religious nature is that of intolerance to those who differ from their extremely religious roots. Often sexually oppressed due to their traditional ways, they would often seek to violent and superiority means when dealing with other cultures. In war over territory the Purtians spread diseases, such as small pox to theses people, who had to immunity to fighting off such a disease. Invading native areas, killing all the men, women and children, then declare a Thanksgiving.
I suggest we as parents, should teach our children, that pilgrims weren't just on the people who travelled on the Mayflower, but real live people of today, who all over the must migrant for religious reasons.
The Movie Molly's Pilgrim is a wonderful example of a more modern pilgrim and can give your children an opportunity to see what a pilgrim actually is.
We as a people should be as kind as the natives who helped the new arrivals and to be better to native people every where. Most of us are not decedents of the Puritans, but the descents of others who came much later. Some willing, others unwilling. It is our responsibility to learn from the errors of the people of the past and not repeat failed concepts, simple because they are comfortable.
This is a great time of year to talk about your own families migration to this country and why. If you are able too, talk about your own genealogy. If you are not able to, discuss why and teach the history of the circumstances that lead to your families loss in culture. This may be a great time to start a family tree, look up your ancestors online get that DNA test to find out your roots, or call grandma in the nursing home and listen to her tell you old stories.
This is also a good time, to learn about the Native American culture and their history. You may find a strong connection to the nature based traditions common in many Native American cultures.
May you all have a Happy Thanksgiving.