How much do you know about Thanksgiving? Most people found their parents celebrating this day, and they joined in. Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated nationwide in the United States, Canada, Liberia, and the Caribbean Islands.
The dates in all these countries may vary from one year to another, but the idea is more or less the same. In Canada, it comes on the second Monday of October, while the U.S. celebrates it on the fourth Thursday of November. It was first introduced as a day when people gave thanks for their harvests. Now that you have an idea about this national holiday let us look at some amazing facts.
Thanksgiving Day Facts
1. The first Thanksgiving was a three-day celebration
The origin of Thanksgiving Day dates back to the 15th-century. We may not know the exact date, but it was somewhere between September and November of 1621, an interesting Thanksgiving Day fact. A letter by Edward Winslow in 1621 remains the only evidence used by most historians to trace the beginning of this famous holiday.
According to Winslow, the main purpose of the event was to give thanks for a successful harvest. The three-day event was a mix of feasting, military exercises, and all sorts of games.
2. Only four women attended the first Thanksgiving Day
Today, Thanksgiving Day has evolved into a holiday that brings families together. Most people prefer to celebrate it with their loved ones. Unlike today where both genders are balanced at the Thanksgiving dinner table, the first celebration had more men than women. In fact, there were only four married women, 22 men, and 25 children at that event.
3. NFL Thanksgiving games have been played since 1934
In 1934, the first Thanksgiving match was hosted by Detroit Lions. Since then, Thanksgiving games have become a norm, with most Americans looking forward to the matches. With the exception of 1939 and 1944, the tradition has been upheld through the years without interruptions, a fun fact about Thanksgiving Day.
Football on Thanksgiving, however, started long before the 1934 NFL match. The first game was played in 1876 between Princeton and Yale. So, you can see why football on this day is a very significant feature in the U.S.
4. Thanksgiving Day was once shifted to the third Thursday of November
A few decades after President Lincoln’s approval, President Roosevelt came up with a new idea. He wanted to mix up the dates so that there could be more shopping days in 1939. He decided to declare the third Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day instead of the regular dates.
However, this did not augur well for the football fraternity. The match days were interrupted, not to mention work in most companies. In fact, most calendar printers had the wrong dates.
5. “Jingle Bells” was first sung on a Thanksgiving Day
One of the main symbolic factors in today’s Christmas celebrations is the “Jingle Bells” song. Whenever you listen to this track, you know that Christmas is around the corner. However, are you aware that it was originally a Thanksgiving Day theme song?
Titled “One Horse Open Sleigh,” the song was composed in 1857. James Pierpont, the songwriter, intended it for Thanksgiving Day. The song did not hit the national speakers until December 25, 1859. On this day, it was renamed “Jingle Bells” and was unofficially made a Christmas day song.
6. A turkey is pardoned every Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving Day without a turkey doesn’t fit the agenda, at least in the 21st-century. Well, one thing that most don’t know is that as they fry their turkey, one member of the bird kingdom is pardoned. Abraham Lincoln’s son once begged his father to let the turkey live instead of being part of the menu.
As such, it has since become a norm for the President to select one lucky turkey and let it live out its days, an interesting Thanksgiving Day fact. In 2005 and 2009, the lucky ones were sent to Disneyland, where they were taken care of for the rest of their lives.
7. Turkey was not on the menu during the first celebration
If you attend any modern Thanksgiving event, you won’t miss a turkey. Well, it has become a symbolic feature in today’s Thanksgiving dinner. But when was it introduced?
In 1863, Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in the United States. Turkey was known at the time as uniquely North American. As such, it gained traction as the meal of choice, and that’s how it became the main part of most Thanksgiving dinners.
8. Not everyone eats turkey on Thanksgiving Day
Of course, turkey is a big part of this celebration for most Americans. However, it is not the main dish for all people. Some are vegetarians or vegans, while others choose not to include this delicacy in their menu. An interesting Thanksgiving Day fact is that it is reported that about 12% of the Americans do not eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day.
9. Thomas Jefferson was not in support of this holiday
The third President of the United States did not oppose thankfulness, but he didn’t see the point in making it a holiday. Thomas Jefferson is known for his belief in the separation of church and state. Therefore, if he endorsed Thanksgiving Day as a holiday, it would seem like a state-sponsored religion.
10. Sarah Josepha Hale helped make the day a holiday
You probably have read or heard about the “Mary had a Little Lamb” lullaby story. The writer, Sarah Josepha, played an important role in ensuring that Thanksgiving Day became a national holiday. It is reported that she wrote a lot of letters to the President’s office for 17 straight years, a fun fact about Thanksgiving Day.
Being the founder of American Ladies magazine, she had the resources to communicate her ideas. However, most of them fell on deaf ears, but she didn’t give up on her mission. Her prayers would be answered in 1863 when Lincoln was in office.
I hope that this article on Thanksgiving Day facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Rankings Page!