Odella Swafford

Written by Odella Swafford

Published: 04 Jun 2024

Source: Eatthis.com

Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with turkey, family gatherings, and gratitude. But did you know there are some surprising facts about this festive day? Thanksgiving has a rich history and quirky traditions that many people aren't aware of. For instance, the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621 lasted three days and included seafood like lobster and clams. Did you know that the tradition of watching football on Thanksgiving started in 1920? Or that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday in 1863 during the Civil War? These fun facts will make your Thanksgiving dinner conversation even more interesting. Ready to impress your family and friends with your newfound knowledge? Let's dive into the 14 best Thanksgiving facts you didn't know!

Table of Contents

Thanksgiving's Historical Roots

Thanksgiving is a holiday rich in history and tradition. Many people know the basics, but there are some lesser-known facts that might surprise you.

  1. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe. It lasted three days and included a feast of deer, not turkey.

  2. Thanksgiving didn't become an official holiday until 1863. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it during the Civil War to foster unity.

  3. The Pilgrims didn't use forks. They ate with spoons, knives, and their hands. Forks weren't common in America until the 18th century.

Modern Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving today is filled with unique customs that have evolved over time. Some of these traditions have interesting origins.

  1. The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in 1924. It featured live animals from the Central Park Zoo instead of the giant balloons we see today.

  2. The tradition of pardoning a turkey began with President John F. Kennedy in 1963. He spared a turkey and sent it back to the farm, saying, "We'll just let this one grow."

  3. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the busiest shopping day of the year. The term "Black Friday" was coined in the 1960s to describe the heavy traffic and shopping chaos.

Thanksgiving Around the World

While Thanksgiving is primarily an American holiday, other countries have their own versions of giving thanks.

  1. Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. Their holiday dates back to 1578, predating the American version.

  2. In Germany, Erntedankfest is a harvest festival similar to Thanksgiving. It usually takes place in September or October and includes church services, parades, and feasts.

  3. Liberia, a country founded by freed American slaves, celebrates Thanksgiving on the first Thursday of November. Their traditions include church services and family gatherings.

Fun Thanksgiving Facts

Some Thanksgiving facts are just plain fun and quirky. These tidbits add a bit of spice to the holiday.

  1. The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, established in 1981, helps thousands of people each year with their turkey-cooking questions. Experts answer calls and emails to ensure perfect holiday meals.

  2. Americans eat an estimated 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving. That's about one turkey for every seven people in the country.

  3. The heaviest turkey ever recorded weighed 86 pounds. This massive bird was raised in England and holds the Guinness World Record.

Thanksgiving's Cultural Impact

Thanksgiving has left a significant mark on American culture, influencing everything from literature to television.

  1. The famous Thanksgiving episode of "Friends," titled "The One with All the Thanksgivings," is a fan favorite. It features flashbacks and hilarious moments that have become iconic.

  2. Thanksgiving has inspired numerous books and movies. Classics like "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" capture the spirit of the holiday.

Thanksgiving's Hidden Gems

Thanksgiving isn't just about turkey and football. It's packed with fascinating facts that add depth to the holiday. From the first feast in 1621 to the introduction of TV dinners in 1953, each tidbit enriches our understanding. Did you know cranberries were used by Native Americans for dye and medicine? Or that Sarah Josepha Hale, the writer of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," campaigned for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday?

These nuggets of knowledge make Thanksgiving more than just a meal. They connect us to history and traditions, making the holiday even more special. So next time you gather around the table, share some of these facts. It might just spark a new appreciation for the day. Happy Thanksgiving!

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