Did you know the American Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November – over a month after the Canadian Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Begun by the Plymouth Pilgrims in 1621, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts, governed by Governor William Bradford and involving the Wampanoag Tribe of Native Americans. This feast lasted for three days. See if you knew any of these fun facts about Thanksgiving Day and the history of Thanksgiving!
The starting date of 1621 is disputed. There were probably earlier Thanksgiving celebrations in Canada and Florida.
The Netherlands also has a Thanksgiving Day.
Grenada has a Thanksgiving Day celebrated around the same time of year; however, it is unrelated.
Thanksgiving has been celebrated on different dates. It was not until President Franklin D. Roosevelt that the holiday was fixed as the fourth Thursday in November. This was signed into law on December 26, 1941. Before this law, most states had fixed the date as the final (not fourth) Thursday in November.
Benjamin Franklin believed the turkey should be the national bird of America. He wrote disparagingly of the bald eagle, saying about the turkey: “For the truth the Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.”
The day after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday” and has traditionally been the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. This traditional has held since at least 1924. Black Friday is not always the busiest Christmas shopping day of the year (the Saturday before Christmas normally is), though it is usually in the top 10. In 2003 and 2005, Black Friday was the busiest shopping day of the year.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade began in 1924 and is the second oldest parade in America, tied with America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit. Philadelphia has an older parade, originally known as Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade, then the 6abc Boscov’s Thanksgiving Parade, and now the 6abc IKEA Thanksgiving Day Parade.
88% of Americans eat turkey on Turkey Day. Around 20% of America’s turkeys – 46 million – are eaten on Thanksgiving Day alone. That works out to about 736 million pounds of turkey for Thanksgiving alone!
People often blame turkey for making them sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal, but the National Turkey Federation notes that it is probably carbohydrate-rich meals – meals filled with mashed potatoes and stuffing, for instance – that make people sleepy.
Americans eat over 400 million pounds of cranberries each year. 80 million pounds of that are during Thanksgiving week alone – meaning about 20% of America’s cranberries are eaten during Thanksgiving.
The tradition of football on Thanksgiving began over 100 years ago in the northeast. Informal football games played on Thanksgiving are known as Turkey Bowls.