Thanksgiving History Myths Quiz

Staff

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Think you know what happened at the first Thanksgiving? Take this quiz to see how the images, stories and traditions associated with this 400-year-old holiday may be more myth than fact.

What did the Pilgrims wear at the first Thanksgiving?

Forget the black-and-white outfits and big buckles — male and female settlers of the time wore earth tones, with black and white reserved for Sundays and religious occasions.

What year was the first Thanksgiving held?

The three-day feast we now call the first Thanksgiving took place in 1621 and was never meant to be the start of a new holiday or tradition.

True or false: The first Thanksgiving took place in late November, just like today.

The first Thanksgiving took place around harvest time, which would have been between late September and early November.

What would the Pilgrims do during a Thanksgiving celebration?

To the Pilgrims, the word Thanksgiving referred to a quiet time of prayer, not a feast or festival.

What Native American tribe feasted with the Pilgrims?

Around 90 Wampanoag members joined roughly 50 pilgrims for a 1621 harvest feast.

What did the Wampanoag bring to the feast?

The native Americans brought five deer to the feast, as well as a supply of Indian corn.

Which of these sides was most likely served?

The Pilgrims relied on seasonal food, so vegetables would have been the primary side of the time.

True or false: The story of the first Thanksgiving was lost shortly after it was written down.

A letter written right after the event tells the tale of the 1621 harvest feast, but it wasn't until 1841 that the letter was discovered and the true tale of the event could be told.

What percent of the East Coast natives died between 1616 and 1619?

The Pilgrims weren't the only ones struggling to survive in the early 17th century. European diseases wiped out 60 percent of the East Coast population in a three-year period just prior to the 1621 feast.

What did the Native Americans wear to the feast?

Remember, this event took place in the early winter in New England. Attendees were much more likely to have donned furs than feathers.

What was Native American Tisquantum better known as?

Squanto served as an interpreter between the Pilgrims and Native Americans around the time of the first Thanksgiving.

True or false: The colonists treated Squanto with nothing but respect.

Squanto was kidnapped by colonists — twice. When he finally escaped, he found that his entire tribe had been killed, so he went to live with the Wampanoag.

Who was the first president to declare Thanksgiving as a national holiday?

Washington first declared the event a holiday, but it was intended as a one-time event, not an annual tradition.

Who picked the fourth Thursday in November for Thanksgiving?

Lincoln chose the fourth Thursday in November for an annual Thanksgiving celebration starting in 1863.

What president moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday in November in 1939?

In 1939, FDR hoped to lengthen the Christmas shopping season by pushing Thanksgiving back a week. After people protested, Congress restored the original fourth-Thursday schedule in 1941.

True or false: Tad Lincoln wanted to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey.

The young Tad begged his father to pardon a turkey, but it was during the Christmas season, not Thanksgiving.

When was the first Canadian Thanksgiving held?

The first Canadian Thanksgiving actually occurred earlier than the one in the U.S., taking place in 1578 to celebrate Martin Frobisher's arrival in New Brunswick.

When is Thanksgiving celebrated in Canada?

Our neighbors to the north have to deal with earlier cold spells than people living in the U.S., so it's no surprise that they celebrate Thanksgiving a month earlier.

When did Thanksgiving become a national Canadian holiday?

After Lincoln made Thanksgiving a U.S. holiday in 1863, Canada added its own annual holiday to the calendar starting in 1879.

True of false: The Pilgrims never actually called themselves Pilgrims.

Contrary to rumor, the Pilgrims referred to themselves as Saints, never as Pilgrims.

Where did the Pilgrims first anchor when they reached the New World?

The Pilgrims landed at Provincetown on Cape Cod and spent six weeks there before moving on to Plymouth.

True or false: There is no mention of Plymouth Rock in real-time accounts of the Pilgrim story.

The concept of Plymouth Rock was first mentioned in the 19th century.

True or false: The Mayflower was made into a barn that still sits near Plymouth.

After the Pilgrims settled on land, the Mayflower set sail for England. There's no record that the ship ever returned to the New World.

True or false: The Pilgrims invited the Native Americans to the feast.

There's no evidence that the Pilgrims invited the Wampanoag. Instead, modern historians agree that the Wampanoag just heard the Pilgrims making a lot of noise and showed up to see what was going on.

True or false: The Pilgrims thanked the Native Americans for helping them survive the winter.

With their religious focus, the Pilgrims likely attributed their success in the New World to God, not the Native Americans.

What year did Congress officially establish Thanksgiving as a holiday?

While Washington and Lincoln helped establish Thanksgiving, it wasn't until 1941 that Congress declared the day a national, permanent holiday.

How many Pilgrims landed in the New World in 1620?

Around 100 Pilgrims landed in the New World. Just half survived until the next year, and 13 of the 18 wives aboard the Mayflower died before the first Thanksgiving.

True or false: All who rode aboard the Mayflower were deeply religious.

Only about half the Pilgrims were "Saints." The rest were of questionable moral or religious status and were known as the "Strangers."

Which Founding Father wanted a turkey to replace the bald eagle as the official symbol of the U.S.?

Franklin wasn't thrilled by the bald eagle in the official national sea and thought a turkey might be a better choice.

What city was the first to host a major store-sponsored Thanksgiving Day parade?

Macy's famous parade may draw the ratings on Thanksgiving, but it was Gimbels in Philadelphia that hosted the first Thanksgiving parade in 1920.

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