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Five Kernels of Corn Story
Farmer with Corn Kernels
Count Your Blessings at Thanksgiving
Several years ago, I discovered a moving story of the five kernels of corn when writing about Thanksgiving.
This story about counting blessings is a wonderful tradition to include with your family as you sit down to eat your holiday meal.
Read the Five Kernels of Corn story and then invite family and friends to share why each person is grateful at Thanksgiving.
Making the Five Kernels of Corn part of your Thanksgiving tradition as easily as opening up a can of corn to serve as part of the meal or including popcorn before the meal.
To do more about being grateful at Thanksgiving, include a Thanksgiving Bowl, Box or Wreath as visual prompts to help everyone remember to count blessings and give thanks at the Holiday set aside for expressing gratitude.
Learn more about this touching legend of the Five Kernels of Corn. You may view eating corn and eating corn at Thanksgiving a bit differently.
Image: Farmer Holds Kernels of Corn Photographic Poster Print by Stephen Alvarez available at Allposters.
Five Kernels of Corn
Dealing Out Five Kernels of Corn the First Winter
The Five Kernels of Corn Tradition
The story of the five kernels of corn is a touching tradition to start with your family.
The story goes that once Thanksgiving became a holiday, the Pilgrims would start their meal with five kernels of corn on their plate.
These five golden kernels represented all the pilgrims had to eat for the entire day during difficult winter. The corn that remained was planted in the spring.
At Thanksgiving the five kernels of corn was a reminder that many had nearly starved because of lack of food.
Each pilgrim would stand up and one by one pick up each kernel of corn and share five things they were thankful for on Thanksgiving.
This tradition has been passed on from the early times.
To this day, many families place five kernels of corn on each plate to honor and remember the suffering and spirit of Thanksgiving of our Pilgrim ancestors. They also take turns sharing five blessings for which they are grateful.
Story adapted from several online sources.
Image: Jamestown Colonists Dealing Out the Last Kernels of Corn available at Allposters.com.
Plate of Kernels Corn
Vote on the Five Kernels of Corn
Does your family celebrate the Five Kernels of Corn tradition?
Articles on the Five Kernels of Corn
Different articles with other versions of the Five Kernels of Corn story, legend and poem. The story is used by teachers when teaching children about the Pilgrims and also in Sunday Schools or Churches when teaching about Thanksgiving.
More Articles on the Five Kernels of Corn
- Five Kernels of Corn | Boundless Line
It's easy in our culture to lose sight of what we're remembering -- what we're celebrating -- on Thanksgiving.
- Five Kernels of Corn (the Thanksgiving Story)
On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower dropped anchor in a natural harbor on the inside of the northern tip of Cape Cod. There it stayed. The location was not the Pilgrims' first choice; they had planned to settle near the mouth of the Hudson.
- The Legend Of The Five Kernels
It was very cold for the Pilgrims that first winter. Food was in short supply. Some days, they had only five kernels of corn. When spring came, the Pilgrims planted the remaining corn. The sun and rain helped the seeds to grow and much food was harve
- Blessings from Above: Five Kernels of Corn
Once Thanksgiving was established, the Pilgrims would start off their meal with five kernels of corn on their plate. These five golden kernels represented all they had to eat during a 24 hours time frame during tough times.
- Mommy Life: Thanksgiving Tradition - Five Kernels of Corn poem
Many families now practice this tradition: beside each place at the Thanksgiving table are five kernels of dried corn. During the meal, a special cup is passed around the table. Each member of the family drops a kernel into the cup while sharing some
- A Pilgrim Thanksgiving | Mitchell Lewis
In Five Grains of Corn Bass Mitchell tells the story of his childhood Thanksgiving at the home of his friend Kenny, whose family roots were in Massachusetts .
- Lesson Plan: Indian Corn
Children will demonstrate that a combination of foods are more healthy and that the foods we eat today are similar to the foods the Pilgrims ate, by categorizing the foods on poster board paper. Includes The Legend of the Five Kernels of Corn.
- Five Kernels - Sermon Submitted to Sermons4Kids
Five Kernels lesson from Selina Tiesler for Thanksgiving
Vote on Five Kernels of Corn Story
Do you think the Five Kernels of Corn is a Myth, a Legend or a Story?
Five Kernels of Corn - A Myth?
The Mayflower and Her Passengers
Learn more about the Mayflower and the families that came over on this ship in this recommended book which is a collection of biographies on the Mayflower families.
Questions about the Five Kernels Story
Heather Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy and Captain of the New Hampshire Mayflower Society raises the question that the Five Kernels of Corn may be more myth (fabricated) than legend (historical basis).
She cites information from Jim Baker, a member of the Massachusetts Board of Assistants, who explains that the story never happened and that "there any reason to believe that the colonial leaders would actually issue a daily corn ration of five kernals, which was not enough to be of any nutritional benefit."
The myth may have grown out of an 1820 Forefathers' Day dinner, when five kernels of corn were placed on the plates as a reminder of "the time in 1623, when that was the proportion allowed to each individual on account of scarcity."
Caleb Johnson, author of The Mayflower and Her Passengers (above), who is a Mayflower descendant and a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants includes the Five Kernels of Corn as one of the myths about the Mayflower and Pilgrims:
- This was a myth that apparently began in 1820. It has no foundation in historical fact.
- There was a shortage of planted crops that year, and hunger was a problem, but their diet was supplemented by enough fish, shellfish, nuts, waterfowl, turkeys, deer, and other native flora and fauna, to keep everyone alive.
It is interesting to read that this story, which has become a great part of many people's Thanksgiving traditions and is used in many Thanksgiving sermons and as Teaching Units on Pilgrims and the Mayflower, may be more of a myth that a true legend.
Of Plymouth Plantation
In Of Plymout Plantation author Caleb H. Johnson shares the Pilgrims journals from their first year at Plymouth.
Update on the Five Kernels of Corn
- Nutfield Genealogy: Five Kernels of Corn- An Update
This morning I posted a story about the old "Five Kernels of Corn" tradition. Apparently, just like Plymouth Rock and Longfellow's poem "The Courtship of Myles Standish", this is another myth made famous sometime after the American Revolution.
Watch Desperate Crossing
Watch the Untold Story of the Mayflower from the History Channel.
Nutrition in Five Kernels of Corn
From a nutrition perspective, there is not much nutrition in eating a ration of five kernels of corn.
It would have made more sense to hang on to the corn kernels to plant them in the spring, rather than doling them out to eat them.
The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.
No Americans have been more impoverished
than these who, nevertheless,
set aside a day of thanksgiving.— H. U. Westermayer
Ways of Giving Thanks
Share Thanksgiving Flowers
Give Thanks at Thanksgiving
For me, Thanksgiving is most about taking the time to stop for a moment from all the craziness and give thanks for what we have.
Since Thanksgiving is about traditions, there are many traditions, from simple to more complicated, that can be started to help your family remember to stop for a moment to express gratitude.
Serving a can of corn, frozen or popping popcorn after Thanksgiving are an easy ways to remember the Five Kernels of Corn story.
Other traditions that can be started at Thanksgiving include creating a Thanksgiving Bowl, Jar, Box or Wreath.
Using these prompts family and friends can voice or write down the reasons and the things for which they want to give thanks.
More Thanksgiving Traditions to Share with Family
- Make a Thanksgiving Bowl for a Thankful Holiday Trad...
One valuable way to help the family remember that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks is to include a tradition of having a Thanksgiving bowl at the table. I discovered the concept of using a bowl for giving thanks from the Isabella Catalog a few...
- Make a Gratitude Gift Jar
The Gratitude Jar is a wonderful tradition to have with your family and friends. It is also an easy way to teach children about gratitude, giving thanks and being grateful. Traditionally Thanksgiving is the time we think about giving thanks, so it...
- Make a Gratitude Box to Give Thanks
Thanksgiving is literally a a time for giving thanks and a time for gratitude. Making a gratitude box is another way to remember to give thanks throughout the holiday season. Start your holiday season by giving thanks before Thanksgiving and...
- Make a Thanksgiving Fall Wreath
Making a wreath at Thanksgiving is an easy and meaningful craft project. With a few craft supplies create a new tradition as a way of giving thanks. A Thanksgiving wreath can be a way to celebrate the harvest. Thanksgiving wreaths, particularly...
- Give Thanks at Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a perfect time to stop for a moment once a year and remember to give thanks. It's a time to be grateful for one's health, family, friends, job, home and having food on the table. Take a few moments as you read through this lens and...
Corn at Thanksgiving Tradition
Indian Corn Print
The First Thanksgiving Foods
Pilgrims would be surprised to see how we celebrate Thanksgiving these days.
In place of a typical modern Thanksgiving feast of turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, Pilgrims would have eaten what was available to them.
At the First Thanksgiving they would have eaten duck, goose, swan, venison, fish, lobster, mussels, eel and clams; pumpkin, squash, corn and cabbage; red and white grapes; red and black plums; berries and dried fruit.
The Print of the "Jamestown Colonists Dealing Out the Last Kernels of Corn During the Starving Time, 1609-1610" depicts the story of the Five Kernels.
Canvas Print of Indian Corn available on Amazon
First Thanksgiving on Wikipedia
Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, presently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863. It did not become a federal holiday until 1941. Thanksgiving was historically a religious observation to give thanks to God, and is still celebrated as such by many families, but it is now also considered a secular holiday as well.
Most Americans celebrate by gathering at home with family or friends for a holiday feast. Though the holiday's origins can be traced to harvest festivals which have been celebrated in many cultures since ancient times, the American holiday is tied to the deliverance of the English settlers by Native Americans after the harsh winter at Plymouth, Massachusetts and that event has become the pre-eminent foundation story for English North America.
The First Thanksgiving was celebrated to give thanks to God and the Native Americans for helping the pilgrims survive the brutal winter.
Corn Kernals Giclee Poster
This Giclee poster print of different types of Indian corn.
Size: 12 X 18 inches
More about the First Thanksgiving Foods
- The First Thanksgiving Foods
If you were eating at the First Thanksgiving, you would discover that your Thanksgiving favorites might not have been served. The foods served for that first meal were very different than what we typically think of as a modern Thanksgiving Feast...
Eating Corn on Thanksgiving
Corn on the Cob
Include Corn on Thanksgiving
Whether you believe in the story of the Five Kernals, or just want to include corn as as a parable or a remembrance for giving thanks, there are several ways to include corn as part of a Thanksgiving meal.
- Corn on the Cob
- Fresh Corn cut off the cob
- Can or Frozen Corn
- Decorative Dried Corn Cobs
Some people just open up a can of corn, heat it up and serve it with Thanksgiving dinner.
Even our tradition of decorating with dried corn cobs could be traced back to this Thanksgiving story.
Corn holders come in very handy for those who like eating their corn on the cob.
Vote on Eating Corn
What is your favorite way to eat corn?
Use the corn zipper to help get the kernels off of the cob for easy serving.
Popcorn for Thanksgiving
Air Popcorn Popper in the Amazon Spotlight
This Air Popper is the #1 Best Selling on Amazon. Makes up to 18 cups in less than 2-1/2-minutes.
Popcorn for Thanksgiving
A fun and healthy way to include corn for Thanksgiving is to add in popcorn as part of the festivities.
Since popcorn is a healthy, fiber-rich snack, popping some corn to have as a snack while all of the Thanksgiving cooking is going on might be a really good way to curb the appetite of those waiting to dive into Thanksgiving dinner.
Make it more festive by getting some colorful gourmet popcorn for popping and pop it up quickly in an Electric air popper.
Electric popper uses hot air to make a healthy, low-calorie treat.
The Air Popper is faster, healthier and much more economical than pre-packaged microwave bag popcorn.
Touted as being America's first great snack food this mixed popcorn is like popping colorful Indian corn.
Note that the popped popcorn will be white.
Learn More about Popcorn
- Popcorn is a Fun, Healthy and Educational Treat
Popcorn popped the right way is a healthy, fiber-rich treat; popped the wrong way it is a saturated-fat nightmare. Learn about the history and science of popcorn while popping some healthy recipes.
Sweet Corn Print
Plant Corn as Part of the Three Sisters
If after reading about the Five Kernels of Corn myth you are inspired to plant your own corn, you may want to take a look at companion planting, to help your corn grow.
In Native American legends the three sisters can only grow and thrive if they are planted together. The three sisters are corn, squash and beans.
These legends have some truth behind the stories, planting the three plants together allows the corn, beans and squash to support the growth of each other and work together in a process called companion planting.
Each plant contributes something to help the others to grow, creating a beneficial relationship that allows the plants to grow better together than each would grow alone.
Canvas Print of Sweet Corn available on Amazon
Learn More about a Three Sisters Garden
- How to Plant a Three Sisters Garden
Corn, Squash and Bean are the three sisters who according to Native American legends grow better together than if planted apart. Companion planting is the process where each helps the other to grow.
Sweet Corn Print
A canvas print of sweet corn.
Size: 12 x 18 inches
History of the "Five Kernels of Corn" Page
Lens of the Day November 4, 2009
A Page Written Initially to Benefit Kiva
This page was originally written for one of the charity challenges on the Squidoo website.
The story of the Five Kernels worked well as a concept for the Squidoo Thanksgiving Cookoff for Charity challenge in 2009. This page was chosen as a Lens of the Day during the first few days of the Squidoo Charity Cookoff.
The charity that I chose was Kiva, the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website that connects online lenders to entrepreneurs across the globe.
By being one of the winning lenses during the 2009 Official Squidoo Thanksgiving Cookoff (for Charity) Squidoo donated $1000 to Kiva for my non-recipe lens accepted into the challenge. I was very grateful that Kiva will be getting a sizable donation from Squidoo because of my efforts on writing this page.
Being able to make a difference for on Kiva for as little as $25 is a little like making a difference with and being grateful for five kernels of corn.
Over the duration of the time that this page was on Squidoo, the Kiva charity continued to earn contributions from the story of the Five Kernels of Corn.
What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?
Share your gratefuls in the comment section below.