Fun Facts for the Thanksgiving Season
Thanksgiving is a special holiday where we can all take a step back from life and reflect on the things, people and places we are thankful for. Gathering of family and friends to enjoy a big wonderful meal, catch a few games on the tube and talk to those we wish we could see more often are what makes this holiday one of the best each year. Generally you share this holiday with close friends and family, but what if you are attending with people you don’t know well? Here are some quirky Thanksgiving facts to give you some conversation starters. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!
- The first Thanksgiving was held in the autumn of 1621 and included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians and lasted three days. Many believe that only five women were present at that first Thanksgiving, as many women settlers didn’t survive that difficult first year in the U.S.
- Thanksgiving didn’t become a national holiday until over 200 years later! Sarah Josepha Hale is the woman who wrote the classic song “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. In 1863 she convinced President Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She spent 17 years writing letters campaigning for a national holiday.
- Why is Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November? President Abe Lincoln said Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday in November. However, in 1939 President Roosevelt decided to move it up a week hoping it would help the shopping season during the Depression era. It was changed back 2 years later, as it never caught on.
- Presidential pardon of a turkey: Each year, the president of the U.S pardons a turkey and spares it from being eaten for Thanksgiving dinner. In 1947 President Truman held the first Turkey Pardon Ceremony.
- No turkey on the menu at the first Thanksgiving: Historians beleive that no turkey was even served at the first Thanksgiving! On the menu was Deer or venison, ducks, geese, oysters, lobster, eel and fish. They probably ate pumpkins, but no pumpkin pies. They also didn’t eat mashed potatoes or cranberry relish. Turduckens (a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken) were also nowhere to be found during that first Thanksgiving.
- No forks at the first Thanksgiving! The first Thanksgiving was eaten with spoons and knives — but no forks! Forks weren’t even introduced to the Pilgrims until 10 years later. They weren’t a popular utensil until the 18th century.
- Thanksgiving is the reason for TV dinners! In 1953, Swanson had so much left over turkey (260 tons) that a salesman suggested they should package it onto aluminum trays with other sides like sweet potatoes resulting in the birth of the TV dinner!
- Thanksgiving was almost a fast — not a feast! The early settlers gave thanks by praying and abstaining from food, which is what they planned on doing to celebrate their first harvest. When the Wampanoag Indians joined them, they turned their fast into a three-day feast!
- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924. 400 employees marched from Convent Ave to 145th street in New York City. There were no large balloons were at this parade. It featured only live animals from Central Park Zoo.
- How did the tradition of watching football on Thanksgiving start? The NFL started the Thanksgiving Classic games in 1920 and since then the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys have hosted games on Turkey Day. In 2006, a third game was added with different teams hosting.
- Wild turkeys can run 20 miles per hour when they are scared, however domesticated turkeys that are bred are heavier and can’t run quite that fast.
- Female turkeys (called hens) do not gobble. Only male turkeys gobble.
- Campbell’s soup created ever famous green bean casserole for an annual cookbook 50 years ago. It now sells $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup.