Five Kernels of Corn


In early New England, at Thanksgiving time it was customary to place five grains of corn at every plate. This served as a reminder of those stern days in the first winter when the Pilgrims’ food was so depleted that only five grains of corn were rationed to each individual at a time. The Pilgrims wanted their children to remember the sacrifices, the sufferings, the hardships which made possible the settlement of a free people in a free land. They did not want their descendants to forget that on the day on which their ration was reduced to five grains of corn only seven healthy colonists remained to nurse the sick, and nearly half their number already lay in that windswept graveyard on the hill.
– Plymouth Congregational U.C.C., Des Moines, lowa