In the fall of 1621, the religious separatist Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. It eventually became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.
- There were an estimated 271 million turkeys raised in the United States in 2008
- Minnesota produces the most turkeys (49 million) followed by North Carolina (39 million) and Arkansas (31 million)
- An estimated 689 million pounds of cranberries will be grown in 2008, with Wisconsin leading the pack at 385 million pounds
- North Carolina produces the most sweet potatoes (667 million pounds)
- Illinois produces the most pumpkins of any state (542 million pounds)
- There are three places in the United States named after the holiday’s main event: Turkey: Turkey, Texas, Turkey Creek, Louisiana, and Turkey, North Carolina
- The first department store to hold a Thanksgiving Day parade was Gimble’s in 1920
- The Indians who were invited to the first Thanksgiving feast were from the Wampanoag tribe
- Christopher Jones was the captain of the Mayflower that brought the first Pilgrims to America
- President Harry Truman was the first president to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey. Those pardoned birds are brought to a place called Frying Pan Park in Herndon, VA
- Before being harvested and sold, a cranberry must bouce at least four inches to make sure it isn’t too ripe
- The first balloon in the 1927 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade was Felix the Cat.
- Turkey’s can drown if they look up in the rain
- Of the 102 Pilgrims that crossed the Atlantic to the New World, only 50% lived to see the first Thanksgiving
- The Mayflower was not built to transport people, it was a merchant ship designed to transport wine.
- Today, Plymouth Rock is only about the size of a car engine. It has cracked several times and is therefore smaller.
- Thanksgiving is celebrated on a Thursday because the Pilgrims went to church twice a week – on Sunday and mid-prayer on Thursday
What is your favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast?