One day that fall, four settlers were sent to hunt for food for a harvest celebration. The Wampanoag people heard their gunshots and alerted their leader, Massasoit, who thought the English might be preparing for war. Massasoit visited the English settlement with 90 of his men to see if the war rumor was true. Soon after their visit, the Native Americans realized the gunshots were harmless and that the English were only hunting for the harvest celebration. Massasoit sent some of his own men to hunt deer for the feast and for three days, the English and native men, women and children ate together. The meal consisted of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat, far from today's traditional Thanksgiving feast.
They played ball games, sang, and danced. The attendees may have eaten both turkey and pumpkin, but those foods weren't the main part of their meal. Much of what most modern Americans eat on Thanksgiving was not available in 1621.
Although prayers and thanks were probably offered at the 1621 harvest gathering, the first recorded religious Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth happened two years later in 1623. On this occasion, the colonists gave thanks to God for rain after a two-month drought. It was not until centuries later that the 1621 harvest gathering would be incorrectly referred to as the first Thanksgiving.