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Don't try accessorizing with a lot of bling when you choose Thanksgiving costumes. While your Pilgrim costume needn't be drab, you wouldn't wear diamond earrings as a Pilgrim lady, or a big class ring as a Pilgrim man. The Pilgrims had hard lives. The most jewelry your Pilgrim costume needs is a cross pendant.
With Native American costumes, on the other hand, you're not so limited. You can be as proud as a peacock, er, turkey. Turquoise, silver and precious stone as well as carved stone and bone jewelry will look great with your adult Native American garb.
While we love to rewrite history and many Thanksgiving legends are just that, legends, don't wear tons of gold jewelry with your Pilgrim dress. Otherwise, your Thanksgiving costumes will seem as silly as Indians grunting "How!" in those old-time Western movies.
We think of Pilgrim clothing as all black and white, but historians say it was more like a 256-color display. So don't think you have to choose that turkey costume or pumpkin costume rather than wear boring white and black Pilgrim Thanksgiving costumes.
If you and your kids don't feel like dressing in the usual black and white or brown Pilgrim costume with bonnets and hats, you can wear purple petticoats, green vests, periwigs (those white English judge/George Washington hairpieces) or natural hair...just don't add any Pilgrim costume jewelry. Save that for your Native Americans (who didn't wear loincloths in winter, by the way.) Pilgrims let the colors of their clothing speak for themselves. They didn't all wear buckles, either--that legend started much later.
A Pilgrim costume with black and white clothing is a good choice if you're pretending you're a Pilgrim at Sunday Mass. But even the governor of the Massachusetts Colony, William Bradford had a red waistcoast, violet cloak and gray suit with silver buttons.
The everyday Pilgrim costume was typically green or brown, so for children, green or brown Pilgrim Thanksgiving costumes are good choices. Also, young boys often wore dresses just like the girls. However, since you're not sticking strictly to the typical Pilgrim costume as we think of it today, your boys can don their big-collared suit with pride. Just don't limit yourself to black and white--the Pilgrims themselves were fearless and bold.
If you're thinking of building a mini log cabin to adorn your tables where you'll feast in your Adult Pilgrim costume with your kids in their Pilgrim boy and Pilgrim girl dress, you need to read your history. It's a Thanksgiving myth that Pilgrims lived in log cabins. While a teepee (or mini sweat lodge if you're so inclined) will work with Native American costumes, don't try to recreate a Pilgrim log cabin as part of the decor.
While we're on the subject of Thanksgiving myth, you can have an adult turkey or child turkey costume, and even those turkey stand-ups. But there's no evidence the Pilgrims and Indians ate turkey. However, the Pilgrims and Indians probably never imagined us watching football, so let tradition stand with turkey decorations.
Traditional Pilgrim and Indian decorations with your Thanksgiving costumes can include:
* Sheaves of wheat
* Corncobs and squash
* Gourds and pumpkins
* Wild berries and fruit
* Dream catchers and other Native American spiritual items
* Crosses for the Pilgrims
* Hymn books and Bibles for the Pilgrims
* Pottery bowls for Indians and Pilgrims
* Baskets full of plenty and cornucopias
* Rag dolls and toys for the children
Half of a costume party is the theme decor, but don't construct a log cabin unless you also waer a stovepipe hat like Abraham Lincoln.
You vowed you would never again be bloated from eating too much turkey. Why not wear a turkey costume? Instead of devouring pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread, why not strut your veggie stuff as a pumpkin? We guarantee you won't blow your diet!
Harriet the Spy made you giggle as a kid when she portrayed the onion in her school play. You or your child can dress as an onion, squash, tomato, or ear of corn. While your friends fuss about what constitutes an authentic Pilgrim costume and argue over Native American costumes, you can squabble over who gets to be squash and fuss about how to dress as bread stuffing.
With food-inspired Thanksgiving costumes, you won't fall asleep in front of the TV during the football game...unless you want to. And you'll definitely stick to the diet so your pumpkin costume doesn't pinch next year!
While PETA may attack modern-day celebs for wearing fur, they probably would agree that in harsh Massachusetts winters, Native Americans needed heavy furs to keep warm. Fur robes and heavy animal-skin clothing will add authenticity to your Native American costumes.
The Pilgrims may have suffered and taken ill from the cold, but they dressed warmly in cloaks, probably wool. Older venerated men of the community wore long wool coats over their Pilgrim garb, so you or your child can pretend to be an old man (30 was considered old back then) with a long wool coat over a Pilgrim costume and a white Goerge Washington-type wig. Don't forget the older matrons, with wool shawls and cloaks.
But don't you dare fasten a fur cape over your Pilgrim costume or you'll face a worse attack than the Pilgrims feared from the Native Americans. Better to stick with a turkey or pumpkin costume. Pumpkins only wear frost in the winter and don't get spray-painted by activists.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|