Did you know that Thanksgiving is very special for Virginians? The first Thanksgiving has always been credited to the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. But the first recorded Thanksgiving occurred three years earlier 600 miles south in Virginia.

During the Virginia Thanksgiving on Dec. 4, 1619, a group of 38 Englishmen landed at Berkeley Plantation on the James River near what is now Charles City, Va. They were led by Capt. John Woodlief. The ship was called the “Margaret.” The crew had orders to: • give thanks on their arrival. • give thanks on the same date every year that followed. This Virginia Thanksgiving, a religious observance, was held about one year before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620 and about two years before their Thanksgiving harvest feast in 1621. The story is told that one reason we have heard so little about the Virginia Thanksgiving is that just about all the settlers at Berkeley Plantation were killed in Indian raids in 1622.

The crew was comprised of settlers, many of whom were craftsmen who were offered indentured status to settle at the site and carve out a working enterprise out of the wilderness. The Margaret arrived at Berkley Hundred on December 4, 1619. Berkeley Hundred was a Virginia Colony, founded in 1619, which comprised about eight thousand acres on the north bank of the James River. The 35 hearty souls who had traversed the North Atlantic on a 35 ft ship for two and a half months, came ashore with their luggage. The instructions from the Virginia Company required Captain John Woodlief to immediately conduct a religious ceremony of Thanksgiving.
This was not a feast but was simply designed to thank God for the group’s safe passage. The religious service was continued on the anniversary of the landing until 1622. This was not revealed until Dr. John Tyler, grandson of President Tyler discovered the Nibley Papers in the 1930s.
In 1958 a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving was held and has been conducted each year since that time.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving in New England. Remembered and retold as an allegory for perseverance and cooperation, the story of that first Thanksgiving has become an important part of how Americans think about the founding of their country.
Today, Virginians continue to honor this holiday by sharing their family traditions with their loved ones. Some of the best-known Thanksgiving Day traditions are:

• Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade…
• Break the wishbone for good luck…
• Eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal…
• Take a nap…
• Share what you’re most thankful for…
• Watch an American football game…
• Be grateful for Friendsgiving…
• Run a turkey trot…

The Iris Inn team looks forward to this special time every year as we have fused together our family traditions and have blended them into a fabulous feast and festive spirit with a combination of traditions and home recipes that we share with our guests and each other.We fry our turkey, bake our ham, roast our sweet potatoes, and stuff ourselves on Mama’s old-fashioned cornbread dressing.

We always love the spirit of Thanksgiving for it is a time to truly be grateful for all that we have. It’s easy to forget how fortunate we all are so it’s nice to have at least one day a year where we can truly contemplate gratitude and thanks.
• Life
• family
• Close friends
• Good health
• Our home
• Our job, where we get to work with our mom, our brother or sister
• Our great owner
• Our new inn
• Our awesome kind guests
• Ms. Coo
• Jack Jack
• Our amazing team

In the spirit of sharing here is this great recipe from the 17th century.
The dish that emerged as a colonial delicacy during the 17th century Thanksgivings in Virginia was known as “Savory Virginia Pudding.” This dish showcased the fusion of European and local culinary influences. Europeans brought their traditional pudding recipes, which were often sweet and made with flour, eggs, and sugar. However, in Virginia, the colonists adapted the recipe to include local ingredients such as cornmeal, milk, and savory additions like meat, herbs, and spices.

• 1 cup cornmeal
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup cooked and chopped meat (such as chicken, turkey, or pork)
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon dried herbs (thyme, sage, or rosemary)
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease a baking dish.
2. In a saucepan, combine the cornmeal and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and forms a smooth paste. Remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add them to the cornmeal mixture, stirring well to combine.
4. Add the cooked and chopped meat, butter, salt, dried herbs, black pepper, and nutmeg to the cornmeal mixture. Stir until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
5. Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula.
6. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until the pudding is set and the top is golden brown.
7. Remove the pudding from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
The Savory Virginia Pudding would have been served as a side dish during Thanksgiving feasts in 17th-century Virginia. It complemented the roasted meats, vegetables, and other traditional fare of the time. Its unique blend of flavors and textures would have delighted the settlers, as they celebrated their achievements and gave thanks for the blessings of the harvest.
While it may be challenging to recreate the exact ambiance of a 17th-century Thanksgiving feast, preparing savory Virginia Pudding brings a taste of history to your modern-day celebration. As you savor each bite, take a moment to appreciate the culinary heritage and the spirit of gratitude that has been passed down through generations.
We wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy our favorite Thanksgiving poem!
Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice,
An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice;
An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they
Are growin’ more beautiful day after day;
Chattin’ an’ braggin’ a bit with the men,
Buildin’ the old family circle again;
Livin’ the wholesome an’ old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.

Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother’s a little bit grayer, that’s all.
Father’s a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an’ to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin’ our stories as women an’ men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we’re grateful an’ glad to be there.
Home from the east land an’ home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an’ best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We’ve come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an’ be frank,
Forgettin’ position an’ station an’ rank.

Give me the end of the year an’ its fun
When most of the plannin’ an’ toilin’ is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin’ with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An’ I’ll put soul in my Thanksgivin’ prayers.