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5 Thanksgiving Myths That Schools Still Teach Kids

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Thanks to the modernization of many holidays, most celebrations have a sugar-coated story attached to their legacy. Unsurprisingly, there are many Thanksgiving myths that schools still teach kids.  You might even remember these stories when you were a student. Often, these stories are interpreted differently in books, lesson plans, and movies. Needless to say, the annual Thanksgiving holiday is often linked to traditions that many accept without question. It means so much more than turkey and pumpkin pie, though.

It’s understandable why schools may not want to focus on the less-than-glamorous aspects of holidays like Thanksgiving. But it’s also important for everyone — children included — to know the truth. These concepts can be the springboard for enlightening discussions with your child. This is especially true when many holidays are linked to materialism, shopping, and expectations. Of course, making the decision to tell the “real” story about Thanksgiving should be made with your discretion. Wait until you feel the time is right; simply being aware is key.

At the very least, you can brush up on common Thanksgiving myths, helping you understand the real history of the day. Over time, you’ll be able to guide your child in understanding how this holiday is more than what it seems to be.  

Myth #1: Pilgrims and Native Americans Were Fast Friends

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Thanksgiving is often pegged as a peaceful feast shared by the Pilgrims and Native Americans. If the two groups actually sat down for a feast, however, it certainly didn't happen overnight. They lived very different lifestyles and were quite frightened by each other. Mic also noted some historical debate on whether the Pilgrims and Natives actually ate together; some sources speculate that the Natives only showed up at the celebration because they heard loud noises and canons.

Myth #2: Only The Pilgrims Had Hardships

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Thanksgiving curriculum often focuses on the struggles that the Pilgrims faced on their voyage to America. In fact, a Scholastic Thanksgiving lesson for kindergarten to second graders pegs the Pilgrims' hardships as one of the main concepts of  Thanksgiving. There isn't much that covers the shock and surprise of Native Americans who lost their land to the settlers.

Myth #3: The First Thanksgiving Was A Big Dinner

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Contrary to popular belief, the first Thanksgiving dinner was quite frugal. According to The Washington Post, the Pilgrims weren't talented hunters and often went hungry. So every time they were finally able to eat, they called it a "Thanksgiving."

Myth #4: Turkey Was Served At The First Thanksgiving

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Cartoons and books often showcase the Pilgrims and Native Americans digging into a juicy turkey, presumably with cranberry sauce, stuffing, and gravy. In reality, these "traditional" foods didn't become a Thanksgiving meal until 200 years later. According to The Washington Post, a magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale used the initial event as a way to launch her own homemade Thanksgiving dinner. She then released recipes for foods like pumpkin pie and stuffing in a popular publication called Godey's Lady's Book.

Myth #5: Thanksgiving Was Celebrated Yearly After The First Event

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It took quite some time for Thanksgiving to become an official holiday — and it all started with Hale. In the 1860s, she lobbied President Abraham Lincoln to make it in official holiday. Similar gatherings of thanks were not uncommon beforehand, though.