Blog by Linda Wallace
Fun Facts about the First Thanksgiving:
- The Plymouth Pilgrims were the first to celebrate the first Thanksgiving Day at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621.
- The Wampanoag Indians were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land.
- The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days. It was not a feast, but rather a time when Native Americans helped Pilgrims by bringing them food and helping them build off the land.
- Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast.
- The pilgrims didn’t use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers.
Thanksgiving Facts throughout History:
- Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.
- Sarah Josepha Hale, an American magazine editor, persuaded Abraham Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She is also the author of the popular nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”
- Abraham Lincoln issued a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’ on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving.
- In 1939, President Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving would take place on November 23rd, not November 30th, as a way to spur economic growth and extend the Christmas shopping season.
- Congress to passed a law on December 26, 1941, ensuring that all Americans would celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year.
- The traditional cornucopia was a curved goat’s horn filled to brim with fruits and grains. According to Greek legend, Amalthea (a goat) broke one of her horns and offered it to Greek God Zeus as a sign of reverence. As a sign of gratitude, Zeus later set the goat’s image in the sky also known as constellation Capricorn. Cornucopia is the most common symbol of a harvest festival. A Horn shaped container, it is filled with abundance of the Earth’s harvest. It is also known as the ‘horn of plenty’.
- Thomas Jefferson thought the concept of Thanksgiving was “the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard.”
- Contrary to popular belief, Native Americans did not eat cranberries. They did, however, find them extremely useful for dying fabric and decorating pottery.
Fun Facts about Thanksgiving Today
- Each year, the average American eats somewhere between 16 – 18 pounds of turkey.
- Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.
- Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, where it is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season.
- The night before Thanksgiving is the single biggest day for bar sales in the United States. Bigger than New Year’s Eve. Bigger than the Super Bowl. Even bigger than St. Patrick’s Day. The big reason is that everyone descends on their hometowns… gets together with their old friends… and goes out to bars.
Fun Turkey Facts
- The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.
- Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef.
- Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. They make a clucking noise.
- Turkeys have heart attacks. The United States Air Force was doing test runs and breaking the sound barrier. Nearby turkeys dropped dead with heart attacks.
- Turkeys have poor night vision.
- Fossil evidence shows that turkeys roamed the Americas 10 million years ago.
- Turkeys were one of the first animals in the Americas to be domesticated.
- Wild turkeys, while technically the same species as domesticated turkeys, have a very different taste from farm-raised turkeys. Almost all of the meat is “dark” (even the breasts) with a more intense turkey flavor. Older heritage breeds also differ in flavor.
- According to the National Turkey Foundation, when Armstrong and Aldrin sat down to eat their first meal on the moon, their foil food packets contained roasted turkey.
- When Columbus discovered North America, he thought the turkey was a type of peacock, which roam India.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from GiftTree!