Pilgrims Didn’t Wear Buckled Shoes: Mayflower Myths
Myth: Pilgrims wore black and white clothing with buckled shoes and top hats.
Fact: Pilgrims didn’t wear buckled shoes. The myth that they dressed like this stems from the popular clothing style of the day in England in the late 17th century, which carried over to 18th and 19th century depictions.
No Buckled Shoes For starters, the Pilgrims didn’t wear buckled hats. They also didn’t wear buckles on their shoes or waists. Buckles were expensive and not in fashion at the time.
They simply wore the much cheaper leather laces to tie up their shoes and hold up their pants. Buckles later became very popular in England for their expense and as a fashion statement. Those who were too poor to afford buckles wore laces, similar to the Pilgrims.
Common Garb Was Colorful – They also didn’t only wear black and white. Their common garb was very colorful, as was the fashion at the time. They only wore predominately black and gray clothing on Sundays.
The rest of the time, they wore heavily dyed clothing in many different colors; basically all the colors that could be achieved with natural dyes. For one example, a Pilgrim by the name of Brewster left his clothing in his will to someone, which was described as such: “one blew clothe suit, green drawers, a vilolete clothe coat, black silk stockings, skyblew garters, red grograin suit, red waistcoat, tawny colored suit with silver buttons.”
Myth: Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving every year thereafter
Fact: The first feast wasn’t repeated, so it wasn’t the beginning of a tradition. In fact, the colonists didn’t even call the day Thanksgiving.
To them, a thanksgiving was a religious holiday in which they would go to church and thank God for a specific event, such as the winning of a battle.
Not a Religious Holiday – On such a religious day, the types of recreational activities that the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians participated in during the 1621 harvest feast–dancing, singing secular songs, playing games–wouldn’t have been allowed. The feast was a secular celebration, so it never would have been considered a thanksgiving in the pilgrims minds.
A National Day of Thanksgiving – During the American Revolution a yearly day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.
In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom, and by the middle of the 19th century many other states had done the same.
In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November, which he may have correlated it with the November 21, 1621, anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod. Since then, each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation.
Bonus Fact: Another myth surrounding the Pilgrims is that they would have probably died the first winter had the Native Americans not taught them various agricultural tips and tricks.
In fact, the Pilgrims didn’t come so unprepared.
7 Year Contract – They had a contract with various merchants who would come regularly to bring them supplies of food, clothing, etc. for a term no less than seven years, while they established their colony. They were also well versed in hunting and farming techniques from Europe. When the Pilgrims left, they were quite well aware of the colonies that had tried to settle in America and failed; thus, they took appropriate steps to avoid that happening to them.