Roasted turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin pie — all are delicious emblems of Thanksgiving. Today, Thanksgiving is synonymous with family gatherings, football, delicious food, a segue into the December holiday season, and, most of all, a reminder to be thankful.

One element of this American holiday — its history — is particularly rich and meaningful here in New England, where it was born. There are many places throughout the area to soak up some of this Thanksgiving history, with educational experiences for everyone in the family to serve as a nice complement to the turkey and mashed potatoes. Here are a few to visit.

Plimoth Plantation

See the history of Thanksgiving come alive at this historical landmark, where the interactions between the Wampanoag people and colonial English groups are on display throughout the premises. Role players in costume are featured on the Mayflower II (a replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims over to America in 1620), and there is a 17th century English village. At the Wampanoag homesite, Native people are on hand to speak about the history and culture of the Wampanoags. Plimoth Plantation often hosts seasonal events, too.

Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum

This Cape Cod organization’s mission is to commemorate the history of the Mayflower Pilgrims, culminating in their arrival and stay in Provincetown Harbor, and the signing of the Mayflower Compact.

Cranberry bogs

One of several original native fruits to North America, and a staple on Thanksgiving tables throughout America, cranberries are also the top agricultural commodity crop in Massachusetts. The Pilgrims, who quickly learned from the Native Americans that this fruit could be of high value when bartering, called it the “craneberry,” because its small, pink blossoms were likened to the head and bill of a Sandhill crane. Learning about where cranberries grow and thrive throughout New England can be a fun and tasty experience for everyone. Here are a few cranberry bogs to check out:

Soak up some of the history in Thanksgiving’s birthplace this year, and enjoy all the delicious offerings!

Oh, and another fun historical fact: Did you know the famed song “Over the River and Through the Wood” was originally a poem written about a New England boy on his way to his grandparents’ house on Thanksgiving Day, by a New England writer, Lydia Maria Child? We’ve been singing it on repeat in my house (at my 2-year-old’s request), and I never knew this was about Thanksgiving!

Kate Cotter
Kate came to New England for college a decade and a half ago, and fell in love with all things Boston. She is the mom of two beautiful baby boys, ages 2.5 & 10 months, and loves watching them explore this lovely area of the country, experiencing Boston through their eyes. Heart-filling: spending time with my family, spontaneous hugs, kisses and “I love you Mommy” from my boys, reading great books, fall in New England, the Adirondacks, golden retriever puppies (don’t have any yet!), coffee, champagne, and serendipity. Can do without: Boston traffic, inconsiderateness, never-ending winters and stir-craziness.