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10 Interesting Facts About the Pilgrims You Probably Never Knew

By Edited Nov 4, 2016 7 23

Do You Know These 10 Pilgrim Facts?

As you sit down to feast on turkey, sweet potatoes, corn and pumpkin pie this coming Thanksgiving, you can play a little trivia game using these ten interesting facts about the Pilgrims.

1. Not all of the Pilgrims left England because they wanted freedom from religious persecution.

This interesting fact about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving tells more than what we are taught in school. While several of the Pilgrims (called Separatists) did want to flee England for religious freedom, others went to the New World for business opportunities, some were hired hands and some were servants.

10 Fun Facts About the Pilgrims

2. The Mayflower left Plymouth England on September 6, 1620.

Another interesting fact is that they did not sail to the New World on their first attempt. There were two ships that were to sail to the New World, The Speedwell and The Mayflower. The Speedwell, made two attempts to leave with the Mayflower, but each time it leaked. So the Mayflower sailed alone across the Atlantic Ocean.

3. The Mayflower crew and the Pilgrims did not get along very well.

The Pilgrims were unaccustomed to the sea, and frequently became sick. The sailors called them "glib-glabbety puke stockings."  Conversely, the Pilgrims did not like the sailors' "salty" language.

Another interesting fact is that by the time the journey was over, the sailors were impressed by their fortitude. 


This book about sailing on the Mayflower has lots of fun information for kids

 and is written in a manner they will understand and enjoy.

4. The Mayflower was no luxury cruise.

The journey from England to the New World was an uncomfortable one. The Mayflower was a cargo ship and not meant to carry the 102 Pilgrims and 30 crew members. The travelers had to spend most of the sixty-six days of the journey underneath the ship in cramped quarters.

What makes this an interesting fact is their lack of hygiene. There was no bathroom, so they had to use buckets to relieve themselves. There were no showers or laundry, so most of the people did not bathe and wore the same clothing for all sixty-six days of the voyage! Can you imagine the bugs, the dirt and the odor on that ship?

5. There was no midnight buffet on the Mayflower and the food was awful.

The Pilgrims had very little variety in their diet. Because of the winds, they were unable to cook their meals and ate everything cold. They ate "hardtack", a dry biscuit. Insects infested much of the food that was aboard the ship.

6. A baby boy was born on board the Mayflower.

Despite the horrid conditions on the Mayflower, a baby was born while it was crossing the ocean. The name of the baby was  Oceanus Hopkins[1]

10 Interesting Facts About the Pilgrims

Mayflower 3D Puzzle

Get together with your kids to create this 3D puzzle of the Mayflower.

7. They did not settle in the first place they landed.

On November 9, 1620, the people spotted land at Cape Cod. After a search party of the healthiest men went out to find Plimouth, they again set sail and land on December 21.

8. The survivors has to bury their dead in the dark.

During their first winter in Plimouth, more than half of the people died from illness. In order to not let the Native Americans who lived nearby know how much their ranks had shrank, they buried the dead in the dark so no one could see their decreasing numbers.

9. Native Americans Squanto and Samoset saved the day.

Their two Native American friends, Squanto and Samoset, spoke perfect English. Squanto taught the Pilgrims to plant with fertilizer, such as fish heads, with their seeds.

10. The first Thanksgiving feast was based on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

In the fall, when the harvest was great and bountiful, the Pilgrims decided to give thanks to G-d and their Native American friends for helping them through their first year in the New World.

My First Thanksgiving Sleeper

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This outfit is so cute for baby's first turkey day. It comes in several sizes.

The Jewish holiday of Sukkot celebrates the fall harvest, and being religious people, the Pilgrims based their feast on this holiday found in the Bible.

What was served at  the first Thanksgiving?

The girls and women prepared what the men had hunted: wild turkey, wild geese, wild duck, meat pies, lobsters, eels, clams, oysters, fresh fish of all kinds. The Native American guests brought five deer, popcorn, corn, carrots, cucumbers, turnips, onions, radishes, beets and cabbages. 

Your children can recreate the first Thanksgiving with this Fisher Price Little People Thanksgiving set. It has thirteen pieces, including everything you see in this picture.

So while you gobble up your turkey with family and friends, see if they know any of these ten interesting facts about the Pilgrims.

A Visual Look at Their Hardships



Jul 13, 2010 12:49pm
i can honestly say that i was clueless about pilgrims before this article...now i know much more! awsome article
Jul 15, 2010 2:15am
Nice tips included in your post. Thanks for sharing.
Jul 20, 2010 4:17pm
Thanks. When I taught third grade, we did a themeatic study of the Pilgrims for the entire month of November. It was one of the favorite subjects I taught!
Aug 11, 2010 9:32pm
I would've landed at Cape Cod I think, but I guess it didn't have enough resources. What can I say, I'm a beach person!
Sep 17, 2010 1:31am
I would've landed in Florida, that's where the foundation of youth was located. lol
Sep 17, 2010 1:33am
On the second to the last paragraph, mommymommymommy, you listed the food that the Native Americans bought to the feast. One of them was popcorn. I didn't know they had microwave back then. LOL 2x
I have no idea how would they make popcorn back then.
Sep 18, 2010 5:17pm
They would probably just use a heated pot with a lid. ;)

Really interesting article as well!
Sep 18, 2010 6:54pm
Popcorn was around for many years BEFORE the microwave!!! Adrian is correct.
Sep 18, 2010 7:16pm
Thank you for the answer Adrian and mommymommymommy.
Nov 25, 2010 12:07am
Great, now I want popcorn. Congratulations on this great feature article for todays post Good Job MMM
I'm bookmarking your work on my blog
Nov 25, 2010 12:36am
Well, I now know a lot more about the Pilgrims and THanksgiving than I have ever learned. Thanks Mommy3, Congrats, deserves front page today.
Nov 25, 2010 7:15am
Thank you dreamaker and Phil! What a nice surprise to wake up to this Thanksgiving morning! I appreicate the praise and help! Happy Thanksgivign to all!
Nov 25, 2010 1:46pm
Yeah for this awesome article on Pilgrims facts, I too didn't know many of these and you are very deserving of a feature on this wonderful Thanksgiving Day:) Pumpkin pie for everyone-I'm glad it got added to the feast at some point!!
Nov 25, 2010 8:05pm
This is a very fun and educational article. Thank you for sharing!
Nov 26, 2010 2:13pm
Great info! I found the burial bit (at night) intriguing.
Nov 26, 2010 8:27pm
Thanks again, everyone!
Dec 23, 2010 2:36am
Great article and spot on! Interesting enough, I had an ancestor that came over on the Mayflower, named William Brewster.
Mar 3, 2011 9:48am
THINKING? If it was too windy to ccok food on the voyage it must have been awful uncomfortable with the ship lurching around and all the bodily smells! I think i would have got off at the first stop!
Mar 20, 2011 11:16pm
Great article. Yes, I figured the voyage was no picnic and I can just bet when the voyage started AGAIN! Thank you for these interesting facts. I love that the Native Americans helped so much.
Oct 24, 2011 2:40am
From whom do you suppose the Native American's who came to the Pilgrim's aid learned English?
Oct 24, 2011 5:49am
The Pilgrims were not the first Englishmen and women to come to America. Those who came before them and befriended the Native Americans taught them English.
Jul 5, 2012 4:00pm
Hi mommymoomy--as a history buff I really enjoyed your article and picked up some info I hadn't heard before--thank you. Anyway, a well writting piece and thumbs up all the way. Keep up the great writing.
Sep 26, 2012 2:05pm
Thank you for reading! This is my favorite holiday!
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  1. Ann McGovern If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620. New York: Viking, 1991.

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