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1621 Thanksgiving Reenactment

By December 14, 2022January 2nd, 2023History and Drama

     It seems that each year, more archeological evidence emerges concerning the first years of the Plymouth settlement in the 1620s. It’s now agreed that the three-day 1621 harvest served as a diplomatic event and included many more Native people than originally thought. Massasoit did arrive with 90 men but there were other sachems there with people travelling with them as well as Native women and children who came from across the brook in Plymouth.


     With so much new information, it was absolutely exciting to be a part of a historical reenactment of that harvest meal through the Oregon Society of Mayflower Descendants (OSMD) on “Compact Day” 2022. The huge event was expertly designed and organized by OSMD Governor and historian, Beth Lambright.

     Various objects such as old maps, clothing, shells, and tools representing the 1600s and early America were placed throughout the dining area for people to study and enjoy. There was also an array of Pilgrim-related silent auction items as well as several current Mayflower books for sale.


     Eighty participants, who were primarily Mayflower descendants, sat at round tables set with pewter spoons, plates, and cups, or wooden trenchers. (Forks were not used at that time.) Diners brought their own knives and threw long cloth napkins over their shoulders since that was customary in the 1600s.

Pilgrim Trencher     From there, the whole room came alive with everyone reciting the Pilgrim Pledge, Mayflower Compact, Pilmoth Prayer, and a Bradford quote. Someone at each table lighted authentically replicated candles and then all continued by reading and singing  Psalms. 

     Food was made and served by Mayflower descendants in period dress with the dishes as close as possible to what was eaten in the 1600s. Cornbread with cranberries made from traditional cornmeal was different but exceptional. Then followed roasted turkey and duck, mussels, Wampanoag Sobaheg (venison stew), Plymouth Succotash, sallet with dressing, cheeses from Holland, roasted chestnuts, and pompion (cooked pumpkin). It was a feast of all feasts!



     On top of all this, participants were provided the latest updated information on the Pilgrims and Natives and were given tulip bulbs from Holland (Tulipa clusiana) that the Pilgrims would have seen before coming to the New World. This was just part of a special gift for each participant.


     After the meal, the event concluded with Karen Rinaldo and Kevin Doyle from Cape Cod speaking on “The First Thanksgiving 1621” and “In the Wake of the Mayflower” and me teaching a Native chant to everyone. We pause for a quick photo below.


     What else was special? Descendants thoroughly enjoyed meeting and connecting with others who are their REAL cousins.

     Also, at my book table, I talked about a favorite subject: What happed to the Pilgrims after they first anchored off Cape Cod for five weeks before finding their destination at Plymouth? To find answers, you may be interested in my book, The Mayflower at Cape CodStories, activities, and research that connect 1620 with today. RIGHT HERE Or, invite me to speak at your library or an event. CONTACT


     This was truly an incomparable day for history immersion. Blessings for many, many more Happy Thanksgivings!

REVIEW: “My FAVORITE part, Rebecca, was the Native CHANT!  I loved learning it while using keys for rhythm and was really interested in the meaning of the words  – which you very carefully tantalized the whole crowd, telling them you would eventually tell the translation.” – HBL