However, the dangers did not cease once the Pilgrims arrived in their new home. Due to the delays and the length of the voyage, they arrived just in time for winter, which was devastating to the settlers. Many became sick and died that season, and by the end of their first year in the New World, nearly half of those arriving on the Mayflower had not survived.
But even in these darkest of times, luck would shine on the Pilgrims. A Native Americans named Squanto befriended the settlement of Pilgrims. Having traveled to England with earlier English explorers, Squanto spoke English and understood the Puritans' customs. Along with other Native Americans, he taught the settlers how to survive in their harsh, new environment.
The Pilgrims, with help from their Native American friends, learned many new things. They found out which plants were poisonous, and which could be used to help fight sickness. They learned efficient hunting and fishing skills and discovered strange foods: corn, that grew well in the Northern soil; squash, including the large pumpkin; and a strange wild bird, the turkey.
Many of the seeds that the Pilgrims had brought to the New World would not grow in the rocky soil of their new home. However, with seeds and plants supplied by their Native American friends, the Pilgrims planted crops to see them through that first, hard year.
The fall harvest of 1621 was bountiful, a cause for celebration. To give thanks for the plentiful harvest and good fortune, the Pilgrims held a three-day feast, much like the traditional fall harvest feasts of their native England.