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Take a moment to think of your favorite Thanksgiving food fresh from the oven or steaming from the stove. How does it look? What does it smell like? How does it taste? Is your mouth watering right now? Good!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for family gatherings and it’s a joyful time for home-cooked food!

You have probably heard the story of the first Thanksgiving feast in the United States, but you may be surprised to learn what foods were actually on the Pilgrims’ menu.

More Lobster, Please!

The adventurous Pilgrims landed at Plymouth (in what is now known as Massachusetts) in 1620. They had grand plans for starting a new life. None of them, however, was prepared for the hardships to come. They arrived in the middle of winter, so they were not able to plant crops for food. The winter was so harsh that about half of them died after only a few months.

Thankfully, some Native Americans in the area (ever heard of Squanto?) befriended the Pilgrims and taught them how to fish, hunt, and plant crops. The next fall the Pilgrims received a rich harvest of corn and other vegetables. The Pilgrims were so overjoyed that they decided to throw a party. They wanted to celebrate the harvest and thank God for providing food for their colony. The grateful Pilgrims invited the native Wampanoag people and their powerful leader, Massasoit, to a huge feast. The food on the Thanksgiving menu included venison (deer meat), goose, wild turkey, fish, corn, bread, pumpkin, and, yes, lobster! We may not have buttered lobster tails on our dinner plates this Thanksgiving, but like the Pilgrims, we can definitely thank God for food!

(from History Alive! Teachers’ Curriculum Institute; Palo Alto, Calif.)

God Provides

“He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Acts 14:17

Thanksgiving is all about being grateful. The Pilgrims were thankful to God for providing them with enough food to eat. How about us? Sometimes we forget to thank God for the small things in life, like a bowl of Cheerios in the morning or a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich at lunchtime. We may not have to grow and gather our own food like the Pilgrims did, but we can certainly thank God for farms, grocery stores, and refrigerators!

The First Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims were not the first settlers in North America to celebrate Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving took place in Canada, decades before the Pilgrims arrived. An English explorer by the name of Martin Frobisher set sail on the fierce waves of the Atlantic Ocean in search of a water passageway to China. Instead of finding a water route to the East, he stumbled upon new territory he named Newfoundland. In 1578, Frobisher held a special ceremony to celebrate an abundant harvest, and to thank God for safe arrival in a new land. This became known as the first Thanksgiving in North America. Other European explorers settled in Canada and continued Frobisher’s tradition of ceremonies and harvest feasts. Centuries later, in 1879, Canada’s federal government declared Thanksgiving an official holiday. Today Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October with lots of food and feasting.

Turkey Treats

Try making this “turkey” for your Thanksgiving table or as a gift for family members.
Here’s what you need:

  • toothpicks

  • paper plate

  • one apple

  • one large marshmallow

  • one piece of candy corn

  • two raisins

  • fruit such as strawberries cut in half, blueberries, raspberries; or candy such as jellybeans, gumdrops, or small colored marshmallows

Here's what you do:

  • Place the apple on a paper plate.

  • Poke a toothpick through the top of the apple, a little off to the side.

  • Insert a large marshmallow on the other end of the toothpick. The marshmallow will be the head of the turkey.

  • Take three or four more toothpicks, and push a few pieces of fruit or candy onto each toothpick. Leave enough space on the bottom of each toothpick to insert it in the apple, around the bottom end, to look like turkey feathers.

  • Break off a small piece of another toothpick and poke the pointed end through a piece of candy corn. Stick the other end of the toothpick into the front of the marshmallow to form the turkey beak.

  • Break off two more small pieces of toothpick and poke their pointy ends onto the two raisins. Stick the raisins onto the marshmallow for eyes.

  • Enjoy your tasty turkey!

What’s on Your Menu?

In the first column write down the Pilgrims’ dinner menu. In the second column make a list of your favorite Thanksgiving foods. How does your menu compare to the Pilgrims’? How is it different? 

Pilgrims’ Menu                           Your Menu

______________________        ______________________

______________________        ______________________

______________________        ______________________

______________________        ______________________

______________________        ______________________

______________________        ______________________

Thanksgiving Jewish-Style

Since the time of the Old Testament, Jewish people have celebrated the seven-day harvest festival known as Sukkot [soo-COAT], which is often translated as “Festival of Booths” or “Feast of Tabernacles.” While Moses and the Israelites traveled through the desert to reach the promised land of Canaan, they lived in portable huts called sukkah. Jewish farmers also slept in these tent-like homes during the harvest season.

Today Jewish families celebrate Sukkot by building their own sukkah and decorating it with dried fruits and vegetables. If weather permits, they also sleep and eat meals in the sukkah to remember the Israelites who lived in these homes during the time of Moses.

—information from Judaism 101,

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