Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Let's Talk Turkey. Or Pilgrims, or Macy's, or TV Dinners, or...

Image by annca, Pixabay

          My family seldom lacks things to discuss when we gather around the table on Thanksgiving Day, but just in case there’s a lull in the conversation on Thursday, I intend to regale everyone with some interesting facts I’ve learned about the history of Thanksgiving in the United States and around the world. So if anyone in my family is reading this, stop! You’ll get the live version in two days.

            Everyone else, keep reading!

1.      Of the 140 people who took part in the first Thanksgiving (50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians), historians believe that only five were women. Very few women survived the first difficult year in the New World.

2.      The woman who convinced Abraham Lincoln to declare a national day of thanksgiving was Sarah Joshepha Hale, who also wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

3.      The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was 2,020 pounds. Bonus fact: I don’t like pumpkin pie.

4.      The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade took place in 1924 and didn’t have any of the floats we generally associate with it. Instead, 400 Macy’s employees marched in New York City with live animals from the Central Park Zoo.

5.      Female turkeys are called hens and they don’t gobble.

6.      The word “Pilgrim” didn’t come into common usage until 1820, when Daniel Webster used the phrase “Pilgrim Fathers” to refer to the people who settled in the New World in 1620. Those people referred to themselves as “Old Comers” or “First Comers.”

7.      The Pilgrims probably celebrated the first Thanksgiving sometime between September and early November, since the feast took place commensurate with a plentiful harvest. The fourth Thursday in November would have been too late in the season to gather a large harvest.

8.      Historians believe that the Pilgrims probably did not invite the Wampanoag Indians to the first Thanksgiving—instead, it’s more likely that the Native Americans came to investigate all the noise the Pilgrims were making in celebration of their harvest.

9.      In 1953 the Swanson company had 260 tons of extra turkey. A salesman (who hopefully got a raise for his genius) suggested the company package the turkey into aluminum trays with assorted side dishes. The rest, as they say, is TV dinner history.

10.  Snoopy has appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade more often than any other character in history.

11.  The United States is not the only country that celebrates Thanksgiving: Canada, Germany, Grenada, Korea, Japan, and Liberia, among several others, also observe a national day of giving thanks.

12.  There were no forks at the first Thanksgiving! They weren’t introduced to the Pilgrims until about ten years later.

I wish you and yours a safe, healthy, relaxing, and wonderful Thanksgiving.


Unknown said...

Love this! And of course Snoopy. Whaaattt, who doesn't love pumpkin pie. I am making one tomorrow! It's one of my favorites.

Cheers! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Don't work too hard! Take some me time to give thanks!

And As Always, "Keep Reading and Writing!


Amy M. Reade said...

I tried sweet potato pie for the first time last week and I loved it--does that make up for not liking pumpkin pie?

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, too. You have an especially long list of things to be thankful for this year and I will be giving thanks that you're able to celebrate the holiday with good health and happiness!!

Unknown said...

Oh yes, I most certainly do! What better gift, then the gift of Life! Funny, I was just sitting at my laptop and I opened a word document and started typing my thankfulness! I am a very thankful lady indeed! 😀

Claire Fullerton said...

Great post! Big fun, and Happy Thanksgiving to Amy Reade!

Maggie King said...

I love pumpkin and sweet potato pie. To me, they're very close in taste. Amy, you must have had an aberrant pumpkin pie somewhere along the way!

The Swanson dinner bit made me laugh. My mother---never the world's best homemaker---adored those dinners.

Amy M. Reade said...

Claire, thanks and same to you!

Amy M. Reade said...

Maggie, I just don't know what it is about pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice everything, and pumpkin in savory foods, but I have a mental block when it comes to pie!

TV dinners have rescued me at mealtime more than once!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

authorlindathorne said...

Interesting post. My husband and I have been doing something a little different every year. If family comes we go out to dinner. Sure a lot more fun for me. Last year it was just the two of us and we cooked turkey (pumpkin pie too and we love it). This year we're treating ourselves to dinner out at Flemings great restaurant in down town Nashville. There will be lots on the menu, but I'm sticking with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Hope you all have a nice Thanksgiving.

Amy M. Reade said...

Thanks for stopping by, Linda. We have a Thanksgiving routine that is set in stone, except for this year. :) We're doing things a little differently this year, but it will include all the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, plus cucumbers drenched in Italian dressing for one of my kids.

It sounds like you'll have a lovely holiday with your husband. I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing meal out and a happy Thanksgiving!

Liane Spicer said...

Fascinating stuff! Have a happy Thanksgiving, Amy!

Amy M. Reade said...

Thanks, Liane! Same to you!

Joyce Ann Brown said...

All good to know. Interesting how fast our historical facts turn into legends. The Odyssey, the Iliad, and the First Thanksgiving...

Anonymous said...

If you tried my pumpkin �� pie, you'd like it. �� Lots of great info here. I didn't know 'TV dinners still existed- I remember how excited my mom was when they grew popular.