The pilgrims, Thanksgiving and beer

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When you sit down tomorrow to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner, you're honoring a tradition that stretches back to some of the first Europeans to settle in America. While the pilgrims' story is closely tied to beer, it may have played less of a role than we've come to believe.

Legend has it that the Pilgrims decided to settle at Plymouth Rock, instead of continuing south to Virginia as originally planned, because they had run out of beer. There is a grain -- barley, perhaps -- of truth to the story, as evidenced by the oft-quoted"For we could not now take time for further search our victuals being pretty much spent especially our beer."

Shelter before beer

The snippet hails from"Mourt's Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth," written by Edward Winslow and William Bradford from November 1620 to November 1621. The fragment, however, merely describes a few days exploration. The rest of the passage reveals that there were other considerations, too, such as finding cleared land, evidence of corn having been planted in recent years and fresh drinking water....

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