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Behind the Holiday: The First Thanksgiving

Plimoth Patuxet Museums Announces National Premiere of Smithsonian Channel Film

Plimoth Patuxet Museums announces the national premiere of the Smithsonian Channel’s new film – Behind the Holiday: The First Thanksgiving. The premiere screening will be held at Plimoth Patuxet Museums on Sat., Nov. 20 at 7:00 p.m. The Museum is delighted to provide free and public access to the film screening.

Thanksgiving is America’s quintessential, original holiday that creates a continuity in the American experience. Most of today’s celebrations joyfully continue the tradition begun four hundred years ago in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

“From one generation to the next, we pass on the family traditions and favorite recipes, the heirloom china and the stories that accompany these personal treasures,” said Richard Pickering, Deputy Executive Director at Plimoth Patuxet Museums. “The feast that it is, the gift of Thanksgiving is not really about the day’s menu. The gift is gathering together in gratitude. In this moment of our Nation’s history, this gift and message are needed now more than ever.”

Guided by interviews with curators and experts, including Wampanoag tribal historians, this film explores the authentic origins of the holiday. Cinematic, historically accurate recreations filmed at Plimoth Patuxet Museums' 17th-Century English Village, the Historic Patuxet Homesite, and Mayflower II, bring the story to life, while objects from the Smithsonian collections transport viewers back in time.

Tickets to the film screening are free to the public on a first come, first served basis. As a supplementary event option, guests will also have the opportunity to obtain tickets to a pre-screening reception at 6:00 p.m., featuring a meet and greet with the film’s producers. Guests may also purchase a snack box of specialty curated treats to enjoy while watching the film, as well as attend an after screening Q&A with Plimoth Patuxet Museums’ scholars and filmmakers.

Proceeds from the pre-screening reception, snack box, and Q&A will support Plimoth Patuxet’s educational mission in the 400th anniversary year of the 1621 Harvest Feast known as the First Thanksgiving. These opportunities can be purchased online at

This event is one of a number of special events and programming planned this fall to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Thanksgiving, including the recently opened exhibit focused on the origins of Thanksgiving, We Gather Together: Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and the Making of an American Holiday. A complete list of Thanksgiving experiences can be found at

About Plimoth Patuxet

Plimoth Patuxet is one of the Nation’s foremost living history museums. Founded in 1947, the Museum creates engaging experiences of history built on thorough research about the Indigenous and European people who met along Massachusetts' historic shores of change in the 1600s. Immersive and educational encounters underscore the collaborations as well as the cultural clash and conflicts of the 17th-century people of this region. Major exhibits include the Historic Patuxet Homesite, the 17th-Century English Village, Mayflower II, and Plimoth Grist Mill. A private, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational institution, Plimoth Patuxet is supported by admission fees, donations, memberships, and revenue from a variety of educational programming, dining and gift shops. Plimoth Patuxet receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, private foundations, corporations, and local businesses. Located less than an hour’s drive south of Boston, and 15 minutes north of Cape Cod, the Museum is open daily from early spring through the Sunday after Thanksgiving. For more information, visit Follow the Museum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.