Fun and Interesting Thanksgiving Facts
Thanksgiving is one of the most popular holidays in the United States of America. Even though you already know it is a time of family, togetherness, and eating turkey together, there is so much more to Thanksgiving than meets the eye! The holiday started hundreds of years ago, and today, people all over the world celebrate Thanksgiving in different ways.
If you didn’t know much about this famous holiday aside from how to make turkey and sweet potato casserole, don’t worry. Our guide will walk you through some exciting facts about Thanksgiving that you might not have known before, so let’s get started.
Also Read: Christmas Facts For Kids
12 Interesting Thanksgiving Facts for Kids
The first Thanksgiving didn’t have any turkey.
Even though turkeys are arguably one of the most famous foods associated with the holiday, historians haven’t been able to find proof that turkeys were eaten on the first Thanksgiving in 1621! This is because even though wild turkeys existed, there’s a good chance that the early pilgrims and Native Americans goose and duck at the first Thanksgiving. Eating a whole turkey became more popular only at the beginning of the 19th century, when turkeys were commonly found at butcher shops and provided large families with more meat to eat.
Thanksgiving originally began as a harvest festival.
Even before the Europeans arrived in America as settlers, the tradition of setting time aside to thank God for one’s blessings already existed. Giving thanks included expressing gratitude for the bountiful harvest each year, along with various other blessings. However, it was only after the Europeans settled in America that Thanksgiving was celebrated as something more than a harvest festival.
The world’s largest parade is held on Thanksgiving.
Every year on Thanksgiving, the department store Macy’s holds a massive Thanksgiving day celebration in New York City. The parade contains floats, performances from Broadway musicals, marching bands, gigantic balloons of famous cartoon characters, and appearances from notable television stars. The first Thanksgiving parade was held in 1924, and the tradition of the parade has continued every year since. However, even though the largest Thanksgiving parade takes place in New York, other American cities also host the parade every year in their own way. The Belk Carolinas’ Carrousel Parade takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina, and America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade takes place in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the first Thanksgiving took place.
Football has been a huge part of Thanksgiving for over 100 years.
If you’ve ever celebrated Thanksgiving in America, you know that many families gather to watch football together. The NFL has been playing football on Thanksgiving since 1876, and the reason for it is very simple. Thanksgiving was a day that most people had a holiday from work and school, so the NFL played football. The tradition of Thanksgiving football began between Yale and Princeton college teams. As time passed, the teams from Michigan and Chicago kept the tradition alive, and today, football on Thanksgiving is an institution in itself.
Sarah Josepha Hale was one of the strongest advocates for Thanksgiving as a holiday.
Even though Thanksgiving had been in existence for at least 200 years, it wasn’t officially recognized as a federal holiday. Sarah Josepha Hale was a writer, activist, and editor who firmly believed that Thanksgiving should be celebrated as a national holiday. She advocated for a holiday and wrote letters to several presidents in her lifetime, most of whom ignored what she had to say. However, a letter she wrote to President Lincoln convinced him, and Thanksgiving became a national and recognized holiday.
President Roosevelt decided that Thanksgiving would be on the last Thursday of November.
You might have noticed that Thanksgiving doesn’t have an official date and that it’s held on the fourth Thursday of every November. Historical reports from 1939 state that Thanksgiving was supposed to be celebrated on the third Thursday of November because the National Retail Dry Goods Association wanted shoppers to have more time to make purchases. Franklin Roosevelt agreed, but in the years that followed his declaration, there was a little confusion all over the country about when Thanksgiving was actually celebrated because only 23 states celebrated it on the date given. After enough chaos ensued, Franklin Roosevelt finally signed legislation, and the fourth Thursday in November was celebrated as Thanksgiving.
Jingle Bells used to be a Thanksgiving song.
Jingle Bells is arguably the most popular Christmas song in recorded history, but it might surprise you that this song started as a Thanksgiving song! The song was composed by James Lord Pierpont and was called The One Horse Open Sleigh. He first sang it at a Thanksgiving concert, and it had no association with the Christmas holiday at all! In the years that followed, the song eventually took on a life of its own and became associated with Christmas, not Thanksgiving. New musicians changed the lyrics and meaning of the song, and it became the catchy Christmas song we know today.
More than 40 million turkeys are cooked each year.
The turkey industry is busiest during November and December, especially when Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Americans consume anywhere from 40 to 46 million turkeys every year during Christmas, along with multiple other side dishes and desserts. The turkeys are usually roasted in an oven, and in recent years, deep-frying turkeys have been a common food trend. Studies have shown the turkey industry is worth billions of dollars!
TV dinners were invented because of Thanksgiving.
TV dinners are often a popular staple in many American households, particularly those with tired parents who don’t want to cook dinner every night. In 1953, a Swanson employee overestimated the number of frozen turkeys to order at Thanksgiving, resulting in the company having to deal with 260 turkeys. Instead of letting all that food go to waste, the salesman, named Gerry Thomas, decided to cut the frozen turkey into pieces. He served them with other traditional Thanksgiving side dishes in aluminum foil dishes that people could reheat, and the TV dinner was born.
A company called Butterball answers turkey-related questions every year.
While Butterball manufactures and sells turkeys and turkey products all year round, they also have a special service dedicated to answering questions about turkeys! The questions range in specificity across the country, and as each year passes, the number of questions has increased, with the company receiving over 100,000 questions in recent years.
President Calvin Coolidge once got a live raccoon for Thanksgiving.
Every year, the President of America gets a live turkey for his Thanksgiving dinner, but in 1926, President Coolidge got a live raccoon instead! Since he didn’t want to eat a raccoon for dinner, he chose to adopt the animal and made it his pet. His wife Grace and he named the raccoon Rebecca, and it became part of the pets at the White House.
Thanksgiving is also celebrated in other parts of the world.
While Thanksgiving is predominantly an American holiday, other parts of the world celebrate it as well in different ways. Canada celebrates it on the second Monday of October as well. In the Philippines, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the same day as the American holiday, but it is not recognized as an official holiday.
Thanksgiving is one of the most popular and widely celebrated holidays in the world, with other countries participating in their own traditions. Even though we have included a list of only 12 facts in this article, we can assure you that there is so much more to this holiday than you might realize! From how the first Thanksgiving came into existence to the holiday as we know it today, Thanksgiving is rich in history and delicious food! Now that you know some tidbits about it, we hope you’ll go and learn more about Thanksgiving.