One of my very favorite things about our trip to Boston was spending a day at the Plimoth Plantation...where I finally learned the truth about "The First Thanksgiving". Contrary to what I had been taught in my elementary history class, what we call the first Thanksgiving, was actually a traditional English harvest celebration to which the colonists invited Massasoit - the most important sachem among the Wampanoag. Both cultures actually had their own separate traditions of giving thanks that predated this particular event. I also thought it was interesting that neither culture called it a Thanksgiving at the time. It wasn't until the 19th century that this event became identified with our American Thanksgiving holiday.
Always learning something new, I guess.
The Plimoth Plantation was very different from a traditional museum or guided tour. Rather, it was a re-creation of a 1627 English village, as well as a representation of a Wampanoag homesite.
The English village was my favorite. It was set up with homes, gardens, animals, fields, and storehouses...with role players throughout the town portraying "pilgrims", and going about the rhythms of their daily life. For example, we saw two men painstakingly chopping at timber to build a house, we saw another man on top of his home - repairing the straw roof, we saw women in their homes - cooking in their hearths. Others were gardening...some tending to the animals. We even heard different views on religion, and some gossip going on. At times I was surprised by their candor.
We were encouraged to go from home to home and to ask questions about what they were doing and why. It was fun to hear the actors speak in 17th-century dialects as they answered our questions, and explained their unique way of life.
I truly felt like I had traveled back to the year 1627, and just happened upon this Plymouth Colony. I was fascinated with the townspeople of the community, how they tended to their livestock, how they cooked - utilizing ever part of the animal, how they slept families of six or 8 in a one room home, how they all worked together in one cause, how they had nothing...but still had everything.
It made me think about our society today, how busy we have become, how wasteful, how selfish and greedy, how much "stuff" we have.
What would it be like to live a life of simplicity - void of ostentation and pretension? Well, that's precisely the life I lived...the day I visited 17th-century New Plymouth.
A visit to the Mayflower II