Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims (Part 3) – Five Kernels

After the harsh winter of 1620-1621, followed by the intervention of Squanto, Governor William Bradford declared a Day of Thanksgiving.

Chief Massasoit was invited, and he showed up a day early with 90 warriors.[1] William Brewster[2], the pastor,  lead the group in prayer.  For three days they ate and played games.

Before the second winter began, a second ship arrived in November with 35 more colonist.   The new Pilgrims had no rations with them.[3] The Pilgrims would have to survive on a daily ration of five kernels of corn per person[4] They survived that winter, and no one died of starvation.

A second Thanksgiving was planned, with Chief Massasoit and 120 braves in attendance.[7] The first course that was served: on an empty plate in front of each person were five kernels of corn, so no one would forget.[8]

As we celebrate this holiday with an abundance of food, let’s not forget our five kernels.  Thanksgiving is a celebration that we have overcome great adversity, and we will do so again.


[1] Marshall, Peter, and David Manuel. The Light and the Glory. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1977, 135.

[2] In 1620 he joined the first group of Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower on the voyage to North America. When the colonists landed at Plymouth, Brewster became the senior elder of the colony, serving as its religious leader and as an adviser to Governor William Bradford. – wikepdia, taken on 11.17.10.

[3] Marshall, 136-137.

[4] Marshall, 139.

[5] Marshall, 141.

[6] Marshall, 142-143.

[7] Marshall, 143.

[8] Marshall, 144.

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