A cornucopia of myths: Five things you thought you knew about Thanksgiving

Since the first Thanksgiving occurred, reportedly in 1621, historians and pop culture have spread a cornucopia of tall tales, half truths, and straight-up lies. Here, we correct those myths. 

3. Pilgrims dressed in all black and wore buckles

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    Plimoth Plantation recreates a day in the life of a Pilgrim Village in 1627.
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Not so fast.

This modern-day likeness of the first American Pilgrims was conjured sometime in the 19th century, when the popular image of Pilgrims was formed – but it’s mostly false. The garb of the Pilgrims was actually brightly colored and buckle-free.

Pilgrim women normally dressed in red, earth green, brown, blue, violet, and gray, and the men wore white, beige, black, earth green, and brown clothing. Buckles were not commonly worn until much later in the 17th century, and black and white clothing was typically only worn on Sundays and when observing formal occasions.

So why give the Pilgrims this now-iconic appearance?

Former Plimoth (yep, we double-checked the spelling) Plantation historian James W. Baker writes that, in the 19th century, buckles were assigned to Pilgrims because they served as an emblem of quaintness, which is the same reason illustrators gave Santa Claus buckles. Also associated with Pilgrims – the blunderbuss, a muzzle-loading firearm with a stout caliber barrel – was so designated because of its old-fashioned, unthreatening look. But the Pilgrims probably didn’t use that either.

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