Thanksgiving Fun Facts
We offer the following fun facts to bring a smile or two to your Thanksgiving table. Enjoy!
- The Pilgrims did not invite the Indians to join them at their first Thanksgiving because neither group liked nor trusted one another.
- Turkey was not on the menu at the first Thanksgiving. Instead, the colonial settlers celebrated the harvest by dining on different types of fowl, deer, flint corn, cod, bass and other types of fish.
- Until 1863, there were only two national holidays – July 4th and George Washington’s birthday. That changed when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday to be held on the last day of November. Despite Lincoln’s pronouncement, not all states were eager to adopt Thanksgiving, because some thought the national government was exercising too much power in declaring a national holiday. Additionally, southern states were hesitant to observe what was largely a New England practice.
- We can thank Sarah Josepha Hale for convincing Lincoln to act. She campaigned for 20 years to have Thanksgiving designated a national holiday, urging five different presidents, governors, congressmen and others to celebrate the Pilgrim’s first harvest. Why has turkey been the main course as opposed to other types of protein? Perhaps the holiday’s chief lobbyist had something to do with that as well. In addition to championing Thanksgiving as a national holiday, Hale is best known for writing Mary Had a Little Lamb.
- Thanksgiving was not always held on the fourth Thursday in November. The date was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help extend the holiday shopping season. When Roosevelt changed the date to the fourth Thursday of November, many Republicans became incensed and would not abide by the new date. Instead, Republicans elected to have their own Thanksgiving on the last day of November per Abraham Lincoln’s dictate. Wow, how times have changed!
- The Presidential tradition of pardoning turkeys on Thanksgiving began in1989 with George H.W. Bush because he thought the turkey was too nervous. His son, President George W. Bush pardoned two turkeys named May and Flower. In 2022, President Biden pardoned two turkeys named Chocolate and Chip.
- Speaking of turkey, Americans will consume approximately 704 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving.
- Baby turkeys are called poults. Only male turkeys gobble and therefore are called gobblers.
- Turkeys are named after the country Turkey. During the time of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish traders started importing guinea fowl—birds that closely resemble turkey – from North Africa to Europe. They were referred to as turkey hens or turkey cocks. When Americans started exporting real turkeys to Europe, they were called Turkeys.
- The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday largely because stores hope the busy shopping day will take them out of the red and generate profits. Black Friday has been a tradition since the 1930s.
- The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade was held in 1924. The Snoopy balloon has appeared in the parade more than any other character. The Beagle Union gave this fact its highest praise, a four paws-up rating.
- Macy’s was not the first department store to sponsor a Thanksgiving Day parade. That honor goes to Gimbels in Philadelphia who held the nation’s first parade in 1920. Today the parade is known at the 6abc Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade.
- Because white meat is the most popular part of the bird, turkeys have been bred to have huge breasts. This genetic engineering has had a downside of sorts. Today’s domestic turkeys are unable to mate due to the fact that their large breasts prevent males from mounting females. As such, most domestic turkeys are artificially inseminated.
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