A well educated friend of mine recently reminded me, “Pilgrims and Puritans weren’t the same thing.” So, for sake of clarification, before we completely put Thanksgiving back in boxes this holiday season, I thought I’d get in this one last plug for the P’s.
You may not be familiar with this term, but Pilgrims were also known by the name: Separatists. Apparently, our trusty Pilgrims didn’t want any part of the Church of England, so they completely “separated” themselves. Thus the term Separatists. Uncomfortable with the heavy rituals and symbolism found in the Anglican Church they preferred a more simplified form of worship.  They felt New Testament studies of the Scripture portrayed the original church (right after Jesus had been on earth) as a simple church.  Not in any hurry to take on the Anglican Church at the time, they decided to just “separate” themselves from it completely.  And so they did.
Their pastor, Richard Clyfton also taught them a form of democratic self-government where the majority ruled all decision making and they believed in equal rights and equal duties for members of its congregation.  (Sounds like a Personal Responsibility program if you ask me).
History books show that the Pilgrims were warm, generous, and thoughtful towards fellow citizens and with the Indians they met in America.
They wore the ordinary fashions you’d have found in England at that time and Wills and Inventories of that period show that some of the leading men wore brightly colored clothing such as red, green or violet leggings or pants. This is a far cry from the dark, boring clothing of the Puritan image that we have been spoon-fed. The Pilgrims were good-natured, fun-loving people who loved life while insisting on the freedom of choice.
Remember: It was the Pilgrims who established Plymouth Colony. It was the Pilgrims who celebrated that first Thanksgiving with the Indians and it was the Pilgrims who ushered in the American principles of democratic government – not the Puritans.
So, who then were those notorious Puritans?
The Pilgrims weren’t the only believers who weren’t too thrilled with the Church of England at the time. The Puritans wanted to “purify” the church in the area of worship.  Since they too didn’t feel a church war would be successful, they quietly formed a rather severe, militant group of believers. The church leaders ruled the parishioners lives and they weren’t the least bit tolerant to those with opposing views.
Committed in their quest for “pure” religion, they were pretty relentless when it came to punishing anyone who went against their doctrines (think Salem Witch Trials). Their attire was dark and plain and accessories were unacceptable as they were deemed the work of the devil. (Man, would I have been in major trouble!)
So, the moral of our lesson today kids is simply this: the Pilgrims and the Puritans were worlds apart in their religious views, their governing style, their everyday attitudes, and their choice of clothing.
Just a little food for thought on this post Turkey, stuffing, and pie holiday weekend.