The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 over a three-day harvest festival. It included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians, and historians believe that only 5 women were present.
2. Turkey wasn’t always the star of the show.
On the first Thanksgiving table, you wouldn’t have found pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, or even turkey. Instead, you may have found venison, duck, goose, oysters, eel, and fish, along with pumpkins and cranberries.
3. Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the children’s poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” is largely responsible for Thanksgiving’s recognition as a national holiday.
Hale grew up celebrating Thanksgiving, and as the editor of “Godey’s Lady Book,” she frequently wrote editorials and articles about the holiday. During the Civil War, she urged Americans to “put aside sectional feelings and local incidents” and rally around the unifying spirit of Thanksgiving. For over three decades, Hale lobbied government officials to officially recognize Thanksgiving. Finally, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a fixed national holiday.
4. But not all Presidents were on board.
Before Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday on October 3, 1863, each President had to recognize Thanksgiving as a holiday each year. But one President refused. Thomas Jefferson would not declare Thanksgiving a national holiday, as the day involved prayer, and Jefferson firmly believed in the separation of church and state.
5. Harry Truman is frequently credited with being the first president to pardon a turkey, but there’s more to the story.
He was the first to receive a ceremonial turkey from the National Turkey Federation – and he had it for dinner.
6. Turkey-pardoning wasn’t a formal practice until 1989.
John F. Kennedy was the first to let his Thanksgiving turkey go, followed by Richard Nixon, who sent his turkey to a petting zoo. In 1989, George H.W. Bush formalized the turkey pardoning tradition.
7. The tradition of watching football on Thanksgiving began in 1876.
The original Thanksgiving Day match-up pitted Yale against Princeton. The first Thanksgiving NFL games, however, weren’t played until 1920.
8. The inaugural Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was actually meant to celebrate Christmas.
If you treat Thanksgiving as the start of Christmastime, you’re not alone. Although the first parade occurred on Thanksgiving, its organizers intended the parade to be a celebration heralding in the Christmas season. The “Macy’s Christmas Parade” first occurred in 1924, and over 250,000 people attended. It quickly became a New York tradition and a nationally televised event.
WATCH: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day ParadeClick to expand
9. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon, Felix The Cat, flew in 1927.
The first giant balloon to float over NYC’s streets, Felix the Cat was inflated with helium and—with no plan to deflate the giant balloon—parade organizers simply let him fly off. He popped shortly thereafter.
10. Green Bean Casserole was invented by a Campbell’s Soup recipe developer.
Ever wonder how Cream of Mushroom Soup became an essential casserole ingredient? The first green bean casserole was cooked up in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly, who worked in the home economics department at the Campbell Soup Company. She devised the idea to add frozen green beans to the canned Cream of Mushroom Soup, then topped the whole concoction with crispy onions. And the green bean casserole was born. Today, Campbell’s estimates that 40% of Cream of Mushroom Soup sales go to making green bean casserole.
11. Americans collectively eat 45 million turkeys to celebrate the holiday, the average size of which is 16 pounds.
That means that Americans consume about 720 million pounds of turkey on this special day.
12. But don’t forget about the sideboard.
With indulgent sides like stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, mac and cheese, and much more, the calories start to add up. Americans consume an average of 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, and around 159 grams of fat. Let’s get our stretchy pants on.
13. What’s the price tag of the big meal?
According to the American Farm Bureau, the cost of a classic thanksgiving dinner—which includes turkey and stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberries, carrots and veggies, pumpkin pie, milk and coffee—was $48.90 in 2018. For a meal that’ll feed 10 people, that doesn’t sound too bad.
14. In practice, however, Americans tend to spend a lot more.
CNBC reports that, to build up that sideboard, Americans spend an average of $334 to host around 11 guests for the big meal.
15. Pack up the car.
According to AAA, approximately 54.3 million Americans travel 50 miles or more to celebrate the holiday. Honestly, this is no surprise—we already know that Southerners will go to great lengths to gather together at Grandma’s house.
My Thanksgiving wish has nothing to do with all the yummy food. Except that those who are hungry, that they will have some. My Thanksgiving wish has to do with all that we have around us, either in our hearts or in our presence. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to make memories with our loved ones and friends. It can also be terrible for those that are financially hurting or those families that bicker and fight. It can be hard trying to move on and look past mistakes and grievances but we all should try. No family is perfect, no matter how many lovely pictures and things they try to display or post about. No one family has it all together. There will times that you dislike each other or maybe that you just don’t connect on the same basis. That is okay. I know with my family we have had our moments. The hardest thing to remember is, we are only humans. God did not make us divine or spotless, or even flawless. He made us each with our own quirks. He inspired us though to be better than we can and to keep reaching to help others and understand others and to love each other. Some people are missing from around our tables this year. Some may never have the chance to sit at our tables. Whatever it is know that you too are not alone. As for my house, we miss those we can not see again, or talk to during this season especially. I miss that I will never get to spend a Thanksgiving with my birth mom, except once. I miss my father-in-law and the company he frequented us with. There is my half-sister who is in jail, again, that won’t have a good Thanksgiving. I miss times in my life when I felt connected to each one I love. My Thanksgiving wish is that all of us look around and truly, TRULY, be happy for all we have. That maybe we can, in turn, help someone else who might need help and comforting. We all know someone! Holidays can be brutal, they can also be a time to reflect and be THANKFUL. I choose to be THANKFUL and pray for those who need courage or resources or whatever it may be to make it through another Holiday Season. If you have managed to sit through this post I am thankful for that too. Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
Stuffing: Thanksgiving dressing is often made with onions, scallions or garlic. These ingredients are extremly toxic for pets and can cause life-threatening anemia. This is the destruction of red blood cells.
Ham: Ham and other pork products can cause pancreatitis, upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. Pork is also high in fat, which can lead to obesity in pets. Even a small amount of ham can contribute a very large amount of calories to a small dog or cat’s diet.
Turkey Bones: Bones can cause severe indigestion in dogs and cats, potentially causing vomiting and obstructing the bowel. Bones may also splinter and cause damage to the inside of the stomach and intestines. In some cases, turkey bones may even puncture through the stomach and cause a potentially fatal abdominal infection.
Mashed Potatoes: While potatoes are safe for pets to eat, mashed potatoes usually contain butter and milk, which can cause diarrhea in lactose intolerant pets. Additionally, some recipes call for onion powder or garlic, which are very toxic to pets.
Salads with Grapes/Raisins: There are many salads served at Thanksgiving that include grapes or raisins as an ingredient, from fruit salad, to waldorf salad, to ambrosia. However, grapes and raisins are very virulent and potentially deadly. Grapes can cause severe, irreversible and sometimes fatal kidney failure in dogs. Be sure to keep all dishes that include grapes and raisins away from pets.
Desserts: While pumpkin pie is the most famous Thanksgiving dessert (canned pumpkin also has many pet health benefits), many people offer a variety of chocolate desserts at Thanksgiving. Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats, yet dogs love the smell and taste of it. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Keep all chocolate desserts out of the reach of pets to prevent an emergency trip to the veterinarian.
If your pets ingest any of these foods this Thanksgiving, be sure to call your veterinarian immediately.