SMITHSONIAN’S THANKSGIVING REVELATIONS

Friday, November 19th, 2021

Thanksgiving in America brings to mind many things: Pilgrims, turkeys, family, American football and more. It is perhaps the most beloved American holiday, but few people know the true story from which the myth of the Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting around a peaceful, communal table arose. Thanksgiving has been shaped into what it is today by America itself. By immigration, by war, by the rise of cities, the fall of slavery, the ‘winning’ of the West, by poverty and plenty, by teachers and pageants, by parades and presidents.

Through period-appropriate recreation filmed at Plimoth Plantation and aboard the recently restored Mayflower replica, BEHIND THE HOLIDAY: THANKSGIVING (Thursday 23rd, 8pm) explores the authentic origins of the holiday and re-discovers the people who were there 400 years ago – English settlers who never called themselves ‘Pilgrims’, and the Wampanoag people, whose land they occupied. Archive and original source materials will be used to explore the human need for ritual and community and trace how a tradition that connects all Americans has been buffeted and formed by the winds of time – and what it means today.


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