Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I suspect that with the USian Thanksgiving right around the corner, there's going to be talk and pictures of the Pilgrims.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, here's a quick rundown of the usual story: Thanksgiving (AKA "Turkey Day") is an American holiday which is a feast of Thanksgiving, given in remembrance of the First Thanksgiving where the Pilgrims had a big feast to celebrate not starving to death though their first winter in America. It's traditionally celebrated with eating of turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin pie (traditionally "pilgrim food") and pictures of people who look like this:

Because Black, White, and Buckles were totally the style in 1620.

I'm not tackling Thanksgiving today (maybe a little closer to the actual holiday) but let's talk about the Pilgrims! Common ideas include:

1) They dressed.. well, like Pilgrims.

2) They landed at Plymouth Rock.

3) They can also be called "Puritans."


I'm afraid, as per the usual, we're 0 for 3 for actual facts in that list.

1) They dressed like Pilgrims.

The image of Pilgrims we see today were actually made much later... and they were stylized to look "quaint." In reality, Pilgrims dressed like pretty much everyone else in the mid 1600s. *

It wasn't until about two centuries later that people decided that the pilgrims were important enough to romanticize, and they went with a bunch of things that represented "quaintness" in the 19th century.

2) They landed at Plymouth Rock.

They landed at Provicetown, Maine. If you drive on US Highway 6, Provincetown and Plymouth are only about an hour and a half drive apart. 

In a car. 

At highway speed. 

The Pilgrims didn't move to Plymouth until about 30 years after sailing to America. **

How did Plymouth Rock get to be about then? In 1741 (yes, well over 100 years after the event) Plymouth residents decided they needed to raise a memorial to the landing at Plymouth. They asked the oldest man in town to ID the rock where it happened. He wasn't quite old enough to be that old, but he obliged. Tourism destiny was made that day.

3) They can also be called "Puritans."

Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and settled in Maine. Puritans lived in Massachusetts. 

Pilgrims and Puritans didn't actually get along. Mostly because Pilgrims called Puritans, "Puritans." You see, the term "Puritan" was actually an insult. *** They called themselves, "The Godly."

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