Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving serenade

since everything was closed yesterday, we decided to go to cape cod, provincetown, a 2,5 hour drive from boston. in between we stopped in plymouth, where there was a gathering of native americans; speeches were held about their history. provincetown was like a ghost town, all shops were closed, but in summer i presume its overcrowded. however, there was ellie (pictured above). she had a cardboard sign next to her, saying "ellie, 78 years young, living my dreams". we talked a little, and then she sung a song from frank sinatra especially for us (it sounded really good.) i guess she is a kind of local celebrity as everyone coming by greeted her heartily. brrr, it was too cold to be sitting there!
without planning or knowing beforehand, we made a very historic tour yesterday. i learned from wikipedia that the (later named) Pilgrims from england could not freely worship as they choose and therefore fled to the netherlands, leiden in 1609. somehow they did not like that their kids began adopting dutch language and customs and so they decided to goto the other side of the ocean. they lent money, bought the mayflower and sailed to the new world in 1620 (the dutch then already had founded new amsterdam in 1614!). they arrived in provincetown but did not get off the ship, and instead sailed on to plymouth. the first winter there was very harsh, and nearly half of the 102 pilgrims died. months later they had the first encounter with native americans, and they taught them how to survive in New England. that october they probably held the first feast now known as thanksgiving; it was celebrated together with the native americans that helped them their first year. it lasted three days and included a.o. wild turkeys and five deer brought by the Native Americans. (over the years more and more englishmen came over. in 1675 there was a war and whereas only 8% of the english male population died; the entire native american population of new england fell by sixty to eighty percent.) this first thanksgiving was modeled after harvest festivals that were commonplace in europe at the time. yet another theory is that the pilgrims were influenced by watching the annual services of thanksgiving for the relief of the siege of leiden. interestingly, a thanksgiving-day-service is held each year in the pieterskerk in leiden, to commemorate the hospitality the pilgrims received in leiden on their way to the new world.
nowadays, thanksgiving is eating with friends and family (and shopping the next day; black friday).
pfew, that was far too much writing but i found it so interesting! surely i stole all this from wikipedia and did not check the references. here, here, and here you can read it for yourself, and a whole lot more...