Spending time with family, switching between football games, and watching the renowned Macy’s parade are the three main components of Thanksgiving Day. But there’s only so much you can catch up on with loved ones, and what else is there to talk about once you’ve avoided all of their awkward inquiries about your plans and dreams for the future (and single status)? With Thanksgiving Day facts, what better way to keep the conversation going and blow some minds?
Thanksgiving is a mixture of myths and facts: Many aspects of the celebration have become completely commercialized, while some of the traditions’ purported roots are unsupported by any evidence. Almost nothing about the first Thanksgiving is even known. Here is what is known about Thanksgiving, from its beginning to how we currently celebrate it.
List of fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving
Below are the list of fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving.
1. Thanksgiving started before Plymouth Rock.
This is one of the fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving. The majority of people believe that Thanksgiving’s beginnings may be traced to 1620, when amiable Native Americans joined the Pilgrims for a convivial feast.
The true history of Thanksgiving is actually a topic of much debate.
Spanish settlers established St. Augustine, according to the National Parks Service, around 1565.
The native Seloy tribe was invited to a supper they had as a celebration.
Red wine, sea biscuits, garbanzo beans, and pork stew were reportedly among the Spanish diet.
Turkey, venison, and corn may have been provided by the Seloy tribe.
2. Thomas Jefferson was against Thanksgiving.
This is another fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving. Thomas Jefferson didn’t have a grudge against people who were grateful; instead, he thought the holiday was a little hazy.
Because Thomas Jefferson firmly believed in the separation of church and state, his support for Thanksgiving amounted to state sponsorship of a particular religion.
He even went so far as to say that he believed that declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday was “a ridiculous proposition.”
Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday only after the tragedy of the Civil War. On October 20, 1864, he declared the day of Thanksgiving a federal holiday.
3. The Pilgrims never called themselves Pilgrims.
One of the fun facts about Thanksgiving on the list of fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving. Till the 1880s, the term “Pilgrim” was in use. Pilgrims referred to themselves as separatists at the time.
The definition of a pilgrim is “a person who travels to a holy place for religious purposes.”
A separatist, on the other hand, is a group that dissociates itself from a more prevalent belief system.
4. Thanksgiving is celebrated outside the U.S.
This is one of the fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is observed in a few other countries as well, despite the fact that it is often considered an American holiday.
Thanksgiving is also observed in Canada, America’s northern neighbor.
The biggest distinction between the two occasions is that Thanksgiving is observed in Canada more than a month sooner.
Thanksgiving is observed on the second Monday in October because winter arrives in Canada sooner than it does in the United States, marking the beginning of the harvest.
Grenada is one of the other nations that observes Thanksgiving, despite the two holidays having nothing in common historically. Likewise, Thanksgiving is observed in a similar manner in Liberia, the Philippines, Saint Lucia, and the Netherlands.
Leiden, Netherlands, provided a home for many of the Pilgrims who traveled to Plymouth Rock. The kindness shown to the Dutch Pilgrims is celebrated.
5. Days of Thanksgiving meant not eating.
One of the fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving, is the day of Thanksgiving meant not eating. The Mayflower Pilgrims’ feast with the Native Americans at Plymouth Rock is the main inspiration for the Thanksgiving holiday.
But before that, there were frequent days of fasting and gratitude. In order to give thanks, religious practices typically involve fasting and prayer.
Three days of fasting to commemorate their first successful harvest was what the settlers had originally intended to undertake.
When the Wampanoag Indians joined them, their fast was transformed into a three-day feast, which is when things changed.
6. There’s a tradition of pardoning a turkey.
This is one of the fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving. A turkey was scheduled to be killed for Thanksgiving dinner while Lincoln served as president.
Lincoln’s kid, who was upset, pleaded with him to let the turkey live.
Abraham Lincoln concurred, and this tale launched a custom that has persisted.
Since then, the president has “pardoned” one lucky turkey each Thanksgiving, who is subsequently taken to a farm to live out its days.
A turkey was scheduled to be killed for Thanksgiving dinner while Lincoln served as president.
Lincoln was urged to let the turkey live by his heartbroken son.
Abraham Lincoln concurred, and this tale launched an ongoing custom.
Every Thanksgiving, a lucky turkey is now chosen to be “pardoned” by the president before being taken to a farm to live out its days.
The treatment of certain turkeys is even superior to that of others.
The pardoned turkeys were sent to Disneyland and Disney World to serve as the grand marshal in their Thanksgiving parades in 2005 and 2009, respectively.
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7. The official day of Thanksgiving moved around.
The official day of Thanksgiving moved around, is one of the fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving.
Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, and today’s Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday in November.
President Roosevelt changed the date in 1939 to the third Thursday in November.
He reasoned that advancing it would give him an extra week to shop for the upcoming holiday season.
But because the populace disapproved of the modification, it was formally and legally altered.
Roosevelt signed a measure on December 26, 1941, designating the US’s fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
8. Some call it a “day of mourning.”
Day of Mourning is one of the fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving. The National Day of Mourning is a counter-protest against Thanksgiving. The United Native Americans of New England (UAINE) have been holding demonstrations since 1970 to draw attention to the suffering of their people.
It is a recognition of the Pequot War, in which colonists attacked and slaughtered 700 Pequot Indians, in more detail.
Those who were caught, hundreds of whom were sent to the West Indies as slaves.
According to one of the UAINE leaders, the group won’t stop protesting until “the merchants of Plymouth are no longer making millions of dollars off the blood of our slaughtered ancestors.”
They have additional justifications for doing this, but the point remains the same—they are opposing the appropriation of and subjugation of their culture.
9. The “Mary Had a Little Lamb” author helped make Thanksgiving a holiday.
Sarah Josepha Hale wrote and edited “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” a well-known children’s lullaby.
Sarah wrote to the 17-year-old president to persuade him to declare it a national holiday.
Long before women were granted the opportunity to vote, Sarah advocated for women’s rights as the creator of the American Ladies Magazine.
She published essays and letters on this platform in an effort to get people to recognize Thanksgiving.
In a time of tension and division, Sarah thought the holiday would help to bring the North and South states together.
Lincoln was the first President to take her concerns seriously, and he signed a proclamation of Thanksgiving that formally declared it a national holiday one week after she submitted one of her letters in 1863.
10. TV dinners were born from a Thanksgiving accident.
A Swanson employee unintentionally placed a large order for turkeys for Thanksgiving in 1953. It weighed precisely 260 tons!
A salesman came up with the idea to package a full meal on metal trays and sell it in order to get rid of all of them by taking inspiration from how airplane meals is served.
After the proposal was granted, 5,000 trays of turkey, gravy, peas, and sweet potatoes were distributed.
They were a big hit and went for a staggering 98 cents!
Since that time, TV dinners have established themselves as a go-to option for busy individuals and families on a budget.
All because one worker placed an excessive turkey order!
11. Not everyone chooses turkey as their main dish.
This is one of the fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving. Of course, turkey is a popular Thanksgiving main dish; on average, Americans eat 46 million turkeys on this special day.
But Californians consume the most food out of all the states!
The perfect bird to feed everyone on Thanksgiving, the typical 15-pound turkey weighs just the right amount.
Even though turkey is the most popular option for Thanksgiving, just 88% of Americans actually select it.
The remainder of the populace may have chosen ham as an alternative, or they may be vegetarians or vegans.
In spite of this, enough people enjoy this wonderful bird that 22 million families also eat turkey for Christmas dinner.
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12. The Original Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade didn’t have any balloons.
Another enduring tradition associated with Thanksgiving in America, it’s difficult to picture this famous procession without enormous balloons drifting down the street!
Since the parade’s founding in 1924, many things have evolved and altered.
When Macy’s came upon a puppeteer who had relocated to New York City to perform with his puppets, they recruited him to make enormous balloon animals.
Massive balloons were originally used in the procession in 1928, and they have continued ever since.
The balloons were released into the skies at the conclusion of the first parade they appeared in, where they eventually burst.
The following year, they were outfitted with address labels and safety valves that let them float for a few days.
A Macy’s gift card was offered to anyone who discovered a grounded balloon and mailed it back.
13. Pumpkin pie isn’t the pie of choice for Thanksgiving.
A significant portion of the Thanksgiving feast is dessert! You may anticipate that pumpkin pie would be a favorite across the country given how important pumpkins are to the fall and harvest.
Unexpectedly, apple pie is preferred by 20% of Americans over all other pies, making it the most popular choice for pies!
Strawberry comes in second with 19%, slightly edging out apple pie.
We now reach the pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is the third most popular Thanksgiving pie, with a 16% popularity rating!
Even if pumpkin pies are consumed on Thanksgiving only in third place, the statistics don’t deceive.
14. Jingle Bells” was Supposed to be a Thanksgiving Song.
This is another fun facts you probably didn’t know about thanksgiving. We don’t really have any songs about Thanksgiving anymore, so this is a strange truth!
It was written by James Lord Pierpont and published in 1857 to honor Thanksgiving.
The “one-horse open sleigh” line of the lyrics refers to the popular sleigh races that took place in Medford, the town where he wrote the song.
Even stranger is the fact that it was intended to be a drinking song. Rum production was a big industry in Medford as well.
Some of the song lyrics have the connotation of being something you sing after drinking and discussing an occasion when you were intoxicated.
You’ll definitely hear Jingle Bells in a new way the next time it plays!
15. The average person eats 4,500 calories at their Thanksgiving dinner.
This is one of the fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving. We all understand that we overindulge during this eagerly anticipated feast, but do you know precisely how much it amounts to?
4,500 calories are equivalent to 28 donuts, 16 slices of pizza, or 61 wings of chicken.
Many individuals believe that if they work out for an additional two hours, it will balance out.
Sadly, it isn’t exactly the case. To balance the delicious dinner, it would require more than 7 hours of jogging or more than 15 hours of swift walking.
On the plus side, it’s a special event, therefore we don’t think having one annual huge cheat day is the worst idea.
16. TV dinners are a Thanksgiving leftover invention.
About the fun facts you probably didn’t know about Thanksgiving on our list is the “TV dinners are a thanksgiving-leftover invention”. I guess, sort of. After Thanksgiving in 1953, the Swanson business had 260 tons of extra turkey because an overly enthusiastic employee had overstated the number of frozen turkeys the business should order.
However, salesman Gerry Thomas had the wonderful idea to develop prepackaged turkey dinners offered as reheatable individual trays, just like airline meals, rather than accepting the loss (financially, that is). Swanson sold 10 million frozen turkey meals by the end of 1954, and the TV dinner industry was established.
Fun facts about Thanksgiving Day: The President Pardons the Turkey
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