So, Thanksgiving. The single busiest day in the life of a Plimoth Plantation employee. For many, the holiday conjures up images of turkey dinners and pumpkin pie shared by the English settlers and their Native guests. Visitors to the site today may be surprised that neither the English nor the Wampanoag seem particularly inclined to get together and pig out. In fact, besides the crowds, little is changed in the museum’s daily routine. Without going into a long, involved explanation of why this is so (which we’ll be doing a great deal of in person in the village today), let’s just say that for the Pilgrims, a day of thanksgiving was a day of fasting and prayer, entirely different from the feast day embraced by modern American culture. In addition, it was not an occasion that they celebrated with any regularity, so if you bring up the subject of “Thanksgiving” or a “harvest celebration” the interpreters will react with surprise or ask if you have heard about such a day being planned.
Obviously, the interpreters who portray these seventeenth century villagers have twenty-first century customs, so most of us have plans of our own for Thanksgiving Day. The break room becomes a repository for all sorts of fantastic food, brought in buffet-style by the village staff for the enjoyment of our friends and co-workers. We obviously look forward to five o’ clock when the gates close and we can relax after a long and hectic day at the office. That being said, even those hours spent in the village are enjoyable, because what better place to spend Turkey Day then at the place where the modern conception of the holiday was born?
If anybody would like to learn about the true origins of the Thanksgiving holiday, then why not come down and visit us? If you prefer the relaxed atmosphere of your own home and comfortable couch, then perhaps you would enjoy watching “The Real Story of Thanksgiving,” filmed here at the Plant, starring our costumed interpreters, and airing on the History Channel tonight at 11:00 PM.
To all of you I wish a very happy Thanksgiving, and family and good friends to share it with.