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.