Sir Moses splashed his staff into the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean. After years of religious persecution, he and the Israelites would finally be free; an entire New World awaited them. The oceans parted and the group stepped onto the dry land. 40 years later, they arrived in America – at Plymouth.
But the Israelite pilgrims were unfamiliar with the agriculture of this new land and struggled to build a stockpile of food to last through the winter. Luckily, one of the Native American tribes offered assistance. They provided a type of cornmeal, called manna, that to it could be added flavorings of any kind.
As thanks, the following year the pilgrims held a simple feast over Turkey, bread and vegetables to celebrate the bountiful harvest. Over time, other foods were added to the meal to commemorate different struggles and successes the pilgrims faced in the early days of their settlements: collard greens for the lush pastures; mashed potatoes for the snowy winters; and pecan pie because, well, it’s just so darn good. A man named Hillel, a prominent member of the community, would make a sandwich with the turkey and other foods served at the meals. Later, due to a publisher’s typo when recounting this story, it became customary to stuff the turkey itself with vegetables and bread to commemorate his tradition. Many also now drink four glasses of wine over the course of dinner, and perhaps more – depending on company.
To this day, many Israelite descendants still celebrate the miracles of that time by dressing like the pilgrims all-year-round.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers!
In honor of the holiday, The Scroll will be dark through the end of the weekend.
Zack Schrieber is an intern at Tablet Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @zschrieber.