34 Facts About Thanksgiving

1.    Although the puritans aboard the Mayflower followed a strict moral code that sometimes makes them appear like the polar opposite of a typical college party head, they both have something in common — puritans really loved their beer. In fact, beer was the Puritan drink of choice, and they brought it along with them on the Mayflower and probably served it at the first Thanksgiving feast.

2.    The traditional cornucopia was a curved goat’s horn filled to brim with fruits and grains. According to Greek legend, Amalthea (a goat) broke one of her horns and offered it to Greek God Zeus as a sign of reverence. As a sign of gratitude, Zeus later set the goat’s image in the sky also known as constellation Capricorn. Cornucopia is the most common symbol of a harvest festival. A Horn shaped container, it is filled with abundance of the Earth’s harvest. It is also known as the ‘horn of plenty’.

3.    It was not until 1941, that congress declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday. It was declared to be the fourth Thursday in November.

4.    Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Virginia, Missouri, and California raise more turkeys than any other states.

5.    About 45 million turkeys will be eaten this Thanksgiving.

6.    690 million pounds of cranberries will be produced in the United States in 2010.

7.    1 billion pounds of pumpkins were produced in the U.S. in 2010.

8.    91% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

9.    Thomas Jefferson thought the concept of Thanksgiving was “the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard.”

10.    Every President since Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day. But in 1939, 1940, and 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Thanksgiving the third Thursday in November to lengthen the holiday shopping season. This upset people.

11.    The average American consumes 4.5 pounds of sweet potatoes per year.

12.    President Truman pardoned the first turkey in 1947. It has since become an annual White House tradition.

13.    Another name for cranberries is “bounce berries” because of the fact that they bounce. They bounce because they contain pockets of air.

14.    Tofurkey, the vegetarian turkey, was first sold in 1995.

15.    Fifty percent of Americans put the stuffing inside the Turkey.

16.    Several people wanted to have an official day of thanksgiving, including George Washington, who proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789. Several people did not want it including President Thomas Jefferson.

17.    The Guinness Book of Records states that the greatest dressed weight recorded for a turkey is 39.09 kg (86 lbs).

18.    More than 40 million green bean casseroles are served on Thanksgiving.

19.    Turkeys were one of the first animals in the Americas to be domesticated.

20.    The Plymouth Pilgrims dined with the Wampanoag Indians for the First Thanksgiving.

21.    In October of 1777 all 13 colonies celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time; however it was a one-time affair commemorating a victory over the British at Saratoga.

22.    Wild turkeys, while technically the same species as domesticated turkeys, have a very different taste from farm-raised turkeys. Almost all of the meat is “dark” (even the breasts) with a more intense turkey flavor. Older heritage breeds also differ in flavor.

23.    Columbus thought that the land he discovered was connected to India, where peacocks are found in considerable number. And he believed turkeys were a type of peacock (they’re actually a type of pheasant). So he named them “tuka”, which is “peacock” in the Tamil language of India.

24.    The Native Americans wore deerskin and fur, not blankets.

25.    On the West Coast of the US, Dungeness crab is common as an alternate main dish instead of turkey, as crab season starts in early November.

26.    The North American holiday season (generally the Christmas shopping season in the U.S.) traditionally begins when Thanksgiving ends, on “Black Friday” (the day after Thanksgiving); this tradition has held forth since at least the 1930s.

27.    Although the official proclamation was to celebrate Thanksgiving on every fourth Thursday of November, Franklin Delano Roosevelt actually changed the date to the third Thursday of March November from 1939-1941. He made the change on the assumption that the economy would benefit from a longer holiday shopping season. Public outrage, however, soon changed that and Thanksgiving was back on schedule ever since.

28.    Macy’s annual Thanksgiving parade has been a well-loved tradition since the original one in 1924. However, few people remember that the parade was actually suspended from 1942 — 1945. The helium used for the parade’s enormous balloon animals was needed for the war effort.

29.    Before the official proclamation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, people were celebrating it on random dates of the year. The date changed every year, hopping from date to date. On some years, like 1815, Thanksgiving was celebrated twice.

30.    If you think your family has a huge guest list for Thanksgiving, think again. The first Thanksgiving was a huge affair for its time. Roughly 90 Wampanoag tribesmen and 50 pilgrims took part in the feast. Imagine how much food was around, considering each of those 140 people was well-fed for three whole days.

31.    Popcorn has become something of a traditional treat at Thanksgiving tables. It makes sense, too — the Native Americans at the first feast introduced corn to the pilgrims. As least it would make sense, if only the corn the Wampanoag tribesmen brought was the kind that popped. The variety that was at the original Thanksgiving was only either singed a little, or mashed to make batter.

32.    Your mom would have probably flipped out at the first Thanksgiving. Although there were utensils present, they weren’t in complete sets — the pilgrims and Native Americans didn’t have forks with them. Instead, they ate with spoons, knives, and their hands.

33.    Turkeys have come a long way since the first Thanksgiving. They’ve even left the planet! The first meal on the moon was a foil-packed roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Thanksgiving has since been celebrated aboard numerous space shuttles, including the Columbia and the Mir.

34.    TV dinners owe a lot of their existence to Thanksgiving. At about the time of the holiday in 1953, the first TV dinner was made. The reason? Swanson needed to do something with the 260 tons of frozen turkeys they had left over after Thanksgiving.