MYTH: The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 and the pilgrims celebrated it every year thereafter.
FACT: The first feast wasn't repeated, so it wasn't the beginning of a tradition. In fact, the colonists didn't even call the day Thanksgiving. To them, a thanksgiving was a religious holiday in which they would go to church and thank God for a specific event, such as the winning of a battle. On such a religious day, the types of recreational activities that the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians participated in during the 1621 harvest feast--dancing, singing secular songs, playing games--wouldn't have been allowed. The feast was a secular celebration, so it never would have been considered a thanksgiving in the pilgrims minds.
MYTH: The original Thanksgiving feast took place on the fourth Thursday of
FACT: The original feast in 1621 occurred sometime between September 21 and
November 11. Unlike our modern holiday, it was three days long. The event was
based on English harvest festivals, which traditionally occurred around the
29th of September. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving
to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941). Abraham
Lincoln had previously designated it as the last Thursday in November, which
may have correlated it with the November 21, 1621, anchoring of the Mayflower
at Cape Cod.
MYTH: The pilgrims wore only black and white clothing. They had buckles on
their hats, garments, and shoes.
FACT: Buckles did not come into fashion until later in the seventeenth century
and black and white were commonly worn only on Sunday and formal occasions.
Women typically dressed in red, earthy green, brown, blue, violet, and gray,
while men wore clothing in white, beige, black, earthy green, and brown.
MYTH: The pilgrims brought furniture with them on the Mayflower.
FACT: The only furniture that the pilgrims brought on the Mayflower was chests
and boxes. They constructed wooden furniture once they settled in Plymouth.
MYTH: The Mayflower was headed for Virginia, but due to a navigational mistake
it ended up in Cape Cod Massachusetts.
FACT: The Pilgrims were in fact planning to settle in Virginia, but not the
modern-day state of Virginia. They were part of the Virginia Company, which
had the rights to most of the eastern seaboard of the U.S. The pilgrims had
intended to go to the Hudson River region in New York State, which would have
been considered "Northern Virginia," but they landed in Cape Cod instead. Treacherous
seas prevented them from venturing further south.