Forefathers' Day


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Forefathers' Day

December 21 or 22
Observed primarily in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and by various New England societies throughout the country, Forefathers' Day commemorates the landing of the Pilgrims, who arrived in 1620 on the Mayflower and established the second English colony in North America. (The first colony successfully established was in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.)
The Old Colony Club of Plymouth was the first group to observe the anniversary in 1769, but since this was only 15 years after the New Style Calendar went into effect, there was some confusion about how many days should be added to the original December 11 date of the landing. All dates before 1700 were supposed to have 10 days added, and all dates after 1700 were supposed to have 11 days added. Somehow a mistake was made, and Old Colony Club members still celebrate Forefathers' Day on December 22. Wearing top hats and led by a drummer, they march down the main street of Plymouth. After firing a small cannon, they return to their Club for breakfast and toasts to the Pilgrims.
Transplanted New Englanders who have formed New England societies in other parts of the country, however, observe the occasion on December 21, as does the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, which sometimes refers to it as Compact Day . The Pilgrim Society, which was founded in 1820 by a group of people interested in the history of Plymouth, holds its annual meeting on December 21 and serves a traditional dinner of succotash, stew, corn, turnips, and beans.
CONTACTS:
Plimoth Plantation
137 Warren Ave.
P.O. Box 1620
Plymouth, MA 02362
508-746-1622; fax: 508-746-4978
www.plimoth.org
SOURCES:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 843
AnnivHol-2000, p. 211
DictDays-1988, p. 43