The History of Thanksgiving … and What was on the Menu
In September of 1620, the Mayflower left England with 102 passengers aboard. Following a perilous 66-day journey across the Atlantic Ocean, the Mayflower dropped anchor near current day Cape Cod. The following year, the colonists encountered an English-speaking Native American named Squanto. Thanks to Squanto and the Wampanoag tribe, the colonists learned to harvest the land and natural resources of New England, which lead to a group celebration.
The history of Thanksgiving as we know it can be traced back to 1621, when colonists in Plymouth shared an autumn harvest feast with the Wampanoag tribe. In the two centuries that followed that feast, Thanksgiving was celebrated on a state level. That changed in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day to be a national holiday.
You might think that what we eat today at a traditional Thanksgiving meal is just like what they served at the original holiday, but there have been some big changes over the years!
What was Served at the Original Thanksgiving?
Turkey, stuffing, apple pie, friends and family around the table - what’s not to love about Thanksgiving? Here’s what culinary historians (yes, there’s such a thing!) have to say was on the menu.
Turkey (and other birds) – Entries from Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow’s journal from 1621 tells us that William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth, sent four men on a “fowling mission” to prepare for the event. Wild turkey was common in the Plymouth area and a popular food source for early colonists. It’s also more than likely that the hunters returned with other birds, such as ducks and even swans!
Fruits and Vegetables – Local produce that likely appeared at the Thanksgiving table in 1621 were vegetables such as onions, lettuce, spinach, carrots, and cabbage. There was also corn, but instead of corn on the cob, kernels were removed from the cob, turned into cornmeal, then boiled into a thick porridge. Fruits commonly found in the area that were likely served were plums, blueberries, grapes, and cranberries.
Seafood – Historians believe that much of the original Thanksgiving menu was actually seafood based. Mussels were an abundant source of food off the Massachusetts shore. Lobster, clams, and oysters were also likely part of the feast.
Potatoes – A must-have for many Americans today, potatoes were not actually present! Potatoes are native to South America, and the Spanish introduced them to Europeans in 1570. But when the colonists boarded the Mayflower, potatoes had not yet become a staple in the European diet.
Pumpkins – Historians have noted that the Pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag tribe ate pumpkins and other squashes native to New England. However, they did not have pumpkin pie. The colonists lacked the sugar and flour necessary to bake a pie and on top of that, they didn’t have ovens! Colonists improvised by hollowing out the pumpkin, filling it with milk and honey to create a custard.
This year when you sit down at the table for your Thanksgiving feast, take a minute to think of the colonists and the Wampanoag tribe and thank them for the tradition they started back in 1621. And be thankful you have real pumpkin pie!
In the Community
This fall, Homestead Funding Corp. is sponsoring the Girls on the Run team at Girls Inc. located in Schenectady, NY. With locations throughout the Capital Region, Girls on the Run teaches girls positive life lessons while helping to establish an enduring appreciation for health and wellness. In addition to supporting the team, several employees are running in the end of season 5K and participating as Running Buddies (men and women who team up with girls in each group and encourage them during the season).
LuAnn McCormick, Executive Director for Girls on the Run Capital Region, said she is glad to have Homestead as a sponsor: “We are thrilled that Homestead is our very first team sponsor! Homestead's sponsorship supports everything the girls and coaches need this season, from supplies and snacks to shirts and sneakers!”
Girls on the Run Capital Region, Inc. was founded in fall 2013 as an independent, 501(c)3 council of Girls on the Run International. Serving girls in Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties, their first team of ten girls was held in spring 2014. Over seven seasons, they have served over 550 girls and continue to grow. More than 200 volunteers offer their time and talents to make this program come alive each season.
Girls on the Run uses running to inspire and motivate girls, encourage lifelong health and fitness, and build confidence through accomplishment. Girls learn life skills through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running games led by certified volunteer coaches. The curriculum is evidence-based and includes three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork, and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large through community service. The goal is to develop and enhance each girl’s competencies to successfully navigate life experiences.
For more information about Girls on the Run Capital Region or to run the 5K on Nov. 18, please visit their website: https://www.gotrcr.org/
Warm your spirit with this easy-to-make mulled apple cider. It’s the perfect fall drink! Whether you’ve just raked leaves from the yard or you’re having guests over for Thanksgiving, you can put together this beverage is just a few minutes. You can adjust the amount of each ingredient based on the number of people you’re serving.
- 2 quarts (8 cups) fresh apple cider
- 1 orange, sliced
- 2 cinnamon sticks (use additional sticks for garnish)
- 2 whole allspice berries
- 3 whole cloves
- 3 star anise pods
- 1 apple, sliced thinly (for garnish)
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then allow to simmer over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Simmer longer for stronger flavor, if desired.
- Remove orange slices, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and anise. Pour into mugs and garnish with extra cinnamon sticks and apple slices. Serve hot.
Yield 8 servings.
At Homestead Funding, we are always looking for new ways to help potential clients finance their dream homes. As part of our goal to help provide financing solutions for all borrowers, we offer an FHA product designed for people with less than perfect credit. Homestead now welcomes FICO scores as low as 560 for both purchases and refinances. This is great news for anyone who thinks their credit score might prevent them from getting a loan!
In addition to the liberal credit score requirements, this product has many other beneficial features! If you have limited funds, you may be need as little as 3.5% for a down payment.* As an extra bonus, gift funds are allowedᶧ and seller concessions can be made.‡ The program also has competitive interest rates and can be used for primary 1-4 unit homes, townhouses, condos, or PUDs.
As an FHA approved mortgage lender, Homestead Funding has helped thousands of families finance their dream homes. If you or someone you know could benefit from this product, Homestead can help! Contact us today to learn more about this program!
*LTV varies based on credit score. Loan limits vary based on county
ᶧ Gift funds may be used for the down payment, closing costs and prepaids if the donor is a relative of the borrower, a close friend or employer.
‡Seller concessions not to exceed 6% of the sale price, which may be applied to closing costs, prepaids, points and buydown subsidies. (3% for HUD homes used toward closing costs only).
If you or someone you know is looking for a first home, knowing where to start might seem a little intimidating. But don’t be discouraged! There are lots of ways to make sure you can find (and own!) a home that is perfect for your needs. Here are five great tips on for how you can find a starter home in a hot housing market!
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