10 Things You Didn’t Know About Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is full of traditions, from parades to turkey. But how did all these traditions come about? Has Thanksgiving always been like this? Prepare to be shocked by some of these fun facts.

  1. There was no turkey served at the first Thanksgiving.                                                                                                             Yes, you did read that right. Instead, the Pilgrims probably ate deer, ducks, geese, and fish as their main coarse. Also, instead of pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce, they ate pumpkins and cranberries raw. Yum!
  2. Thanksgiving was originally going to be a day of fasting.                                                                                                     This fact isn’t actually quite shocking. Knowing how strict and religious the Pilgrims were, it makes sense that they would give thanks by making a sacrifice and fasting. Luckily, the Wampanoag Native American tribe suggested to have a feast lasting three days. Thanks Wampanoag!
  3. The first official Thanksgiving was celebrated way after the Pilgrims were around.                                               Even though the holiday originated from the Pilgrims who gave thanks for their success in the New World in 1621, it wasn’t declared a national holiday for over two centuries. Finally, in 1863, it was made an official national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln. He was persuaded to make this decision by a magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale, who also wrote the famous nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.
  4. Thanksgiving was on the third Thursday of November for two years.                                                                            Despite Lincoln’s declaration of the holiday, President Roosevelt made a change to the date. During the Great Depression, he moved turkey day up a week in hopes that it would help  the economy during shopping season. Unfortunately, it never did, and it changed back to the date we all know today.
  5. Thanksgiving and Hanukkah collide very rarely.                                                                                                                     In 2013, Hanukkah came very early, and began the day before Thanksgiving. This was the first time it had occurred since 1888, and it will not occur again for 70,000 years.
  6. The turkey bird is named after the country.                                                                                                                                      That’s right, the country is not named after the bird, it is the other way around. Turkish merchants imported “guinea fowls” to Europe, and they became very popular. They were then known as Turkeys, after the people that introduced them to the continent. When the Spanish came to America and found a bird that tasted similar to the other bird in Europe, they were known as turkeys, too.
  7. Thanksgiving stuffing is different all around the country.                                                                                                      Here in New Jersey, the stuffing of our turkey (or “dressing’ in some places) is usually made of white bread and other spices. However, down south, Turkey is traditionally stuffed with cornbread. In places like New England where seafood is very popular due to their ports, they put oyster in their Turkey! Other stuffings include apples, chestnuts, raisins, celery and/or other vegetables, sausage or the turkey’s giblets.
  8. “Black Friday” began in the 1930’s                                                                                                                                             Nowadays, it seems like Black Friday has taken over Thanksgiving. Even though it most likely did not include extremely low prices on flat screen tv’s, the tradition began 80 years ago as the beginning of the holiday season, or as it has now become, the shopping season.
  9. 46.9 million people are expected to travel over 50 miles from home this year.                                                                             Get ready for some traffic. 15% of Americans are going to be on the roads and in the sky this year, mostly on the day before Thanksgiving. It seems like travel is increasing, because that is up .6% from last year.
  10. 95% of Americans will spend Thanksgiving with family.


Happy Thanksgiving!