On November 26, homes across the country will be filled with the smells of turkey, gravy, stuffing and all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings. Our 21st-century festivities bear no resemblance to the first Thanksgiving that the fledgling new colonists celebrated with the Wampanoag Indians, their chief, and the Pawtuxet Indian, who taught them everything they needed to know about surviving in a new, unestablished part of the world.
Their journey began in Plymouth, England in September of 1620 when 102 people who thought of themselves as religious separatists, boarded the Mayflower ship. In search of religious freedom, they sailed to the New World. Their intended destination was the junction between the mouth of the Hudson River and somewhere — most likely, the Atlantic Ocean. They sailed for 66 grueling days. The vessel lost its course, and they wound up on the easternmost tip of Cape Cod.
They spent a month on Cape Cod before crossing Massachusetts Bay where they finally dropped the ship’s permanent anchor in the vicinity of Plymouth Rock. They had no knowledge of the new land, and they certainly weren’t prepared for the conditions they found. Most of the new settlers stayed on the ship all winter. They lacked survival skills so they weren’t able to forage for edible wild plants. They didn’t have enough food to get through the winter.
When spring came in 1621, half of the ship’s passengers had died from scurvy or contagious diseases. An English-speaking Abenaki Indian found their camp. He left them in search of help. He came back with Squanto, a Pawtuxet Indian, who also spoke English. Squanto had been kidnapped by an English sea captain who sold him as a slave. Squanto managed to escape, traveling to London and eventually earning money to pay for passage back to America.
Festival of Colors
Squanto helped them learn to fish, taught them to plant corn and other food crops. He showed them how to identify poisonous plants and what they could eat in the wild. All spring and summer, the colonists worked tirelessly, planting and tending their crops. By fall, they were harvesting the fruits of their labors.
William Bradford, the Governor of the Colony, decided to organize a celebratory feast in honor of their first successful harvest. Squanto was among the guests who included members of the Wampanoag tribe and their Chief.
In 1863, during the height of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued a formal proclamation, thereby establishing Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday that would be observed every November.
As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family members, loved ones and close friends, think about the events that inspired the creation of this holiday. Embrace the colors and symbols of the season as you choose the decor for your Thanksgiving dinner table. Our Festival of Colors is a customized centerpiece that features butterscotch-colored roses and sunflowers. We place three long-burning orange taper candles in the center to create a dramatic impact.
You can count on Boyd’s Flowers to help you choose or create the perfect Thanksgiving centerpiece or other flower arrangements to deck your house out for the holiday.