Every child in the United States learns about the pilgrims in school starting from when they make paper plate hand turkeys in their kindergarten class. If asked to conjure up an image of a pilgrim, most people would describe a person in black and white with that iconic buckle hat. But what were the pilgrims really all about?
The pilgrims came from England. They were looking for a better life free of religious persecution so they set sail on the Mayflower in 1620 headed to a brave new world: America. The ship carried 102 passengers and 26 crewmembers. One baby was born on board the ship during the 66-day journey.
Bad weather pushed the ship further north than they had intended to go and they landed on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. They arrived late into the season and spent the first winter on board the tiny ship. That winter was harsh and only about half of the pilgrims lived to see the spring.
However the pilgrims that did survive the winter built permanent settlements and ultimately flourished. Within the next 70 years, the settlement swelled to over 3,000 people and now more than 35 million people are direct descendants from the pilgrims that arrived here on the Mayflower. Fun fact: Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood, and Franklin Roosevelt are among the Mayflower’s descendants.
Aside from the Mayflower, the pilgrims are most famous for the beginnings of what we now call Thanksgiving. That first Thanksgiving feast lasted for three days and they dined on foods like turkey, venison, clams, lobster, squash, strawberries, and grapes.
Maybe this year when we give our thanks, we can include the pilgrims. Without them, the history of The United States would not be the same!