Talking Turkey: Thanksgiving Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

  • November 18, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Thanksgiving FactsWith Thanksgiving a little over a week away, here are some Thanksgiving Facts you probably didn't know:

  • You know that first Thanksgiving in 1621 with the Pilgrims and the Indians in Plymouth Colony?  It seems that it may not be the first Thanksgiving after all.  There are twelve different claims as to where the first Thanksgiving may have occurred, including two in Texas, one in Maine, two in Florida, one in Massachusetts and two more in Virginia. There is evidence that first real Thanksgiving in America occurred when Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his crew held a Thanksgiving celebration in Palo Duro Canyon in Texas.
  • When President Jefferson got wind of the desire to make a federal Thanksgiving proclamation he called the idea, “the most ridiculous idea ever conceived.”
  • The Presidential Thanksgiving turkey pardon began officially in 1947, although rumor has it that Abraham Lincoln had pardoned many turkeys informally, beginning with his own son’s pet turkey. 
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the Thanksgiving holiday to next to the last Thursday of the month of November in order to prolong the season for holiday shopping.  Believe it or not, this irritated a lot of Republicans and for a short time there were two Thanksgiving’s--November 30 was the Republican Thanksgiving and November 23 was known as the “Democrat Thanksgiving.”
  • The average Thanksgiving trip is 214 miles.  At Christmas time the average holiday trek is 275 miles. 
  • Americans eat 535 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving.
  • The Native Americans originally used cranberries as a treatment for arrow wounds or to dye clothes.  Now they are considered part of Thanksgiving feasting tradition!
  • Many states were hesitant to make Thanksgiving a federal holiday because some of them thought that the federal government was exercising too much control by declaring a national holiday.  The southern states in particular were reluctant to be a part of what they felt was a more New England tradition.
  • The pilgrims would likely not have survived without the help and solid advice of Squanto.  Squanto was able to speak English and had traveled back and forth across the ocean several times so he had invaluable experience that helped the pilgrims. 
  • Traditional Thanksgiving football games began with Yale vs. Princeton back in 1876.
  • The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade began in 1924 and is tied for the second oldest Thanksgiving Day parade.  Over 44 million people will watch this parade on television while 3 million will attend it in person.
  • In 1920, Gimbel’s started the oldest Thanksgiving parade, which is now known as the 6 abc Dunkin Donuts Thanksgiving Day parade.  This parade is considered to be the oldest still running Thanksgiving Day parade.
  • Approximately 38 million Americans will travel a minimum of fifty miles to be with family for Thanksgiving.  Over four million of these Americans used air travel.  Thanksgiving Day is actually considered the busiest travel day in America, ironically it is even busier than the day before Thanksgiving.
  • Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday of November and can occur as early as November 22nd or as late as November 28th.
  • The day after Thanksgiving has become known as Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year and the Christmas season.  It is nicknamed “Black Friday” because retailers hope that on this day their sales numbers will go out of the red and into the black, due to very heavy holiday shopping.  The Black Friday tradition has been around since the 1930’s.