America’s Thanksgiving holiday, born in the 1500s, mythologized in 1621, and observed even during the bleakest hours of the Civil War, now stands as one of the nation’s most anticipated and beloved days — celebrated each year on the fourth Thursday in November (November 24, 2022). Perhaps no other nonsectarian holiday has more tradition.
Family, friends, food, and football have come to symbolize — a rare celebratory holiday without an established gift-giving component. Instead, the day urges all of us to be grateful for things we do have.
Here are nine fun facts about Thanksgiving to share around the dinner table.
1 . The first Thanksgiving bought celebrated in 1621 during a three-day harvest festival. It included 50 Pilgrims, 90 Wampanoag Indians, and lasted three days.
2 . Turkey wasn’t on the menu at the first Thanksgivings. Venison, duck, goose, oysters, lobster, eel, and fish were likely served, alongside pumpkins and cranberries .
3 .Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday on October 3, 1863. Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who wrote “Mary Had A Little Lam ”. Convinced Lincoln to make a national holiday after writing letters for 17 years.
4 . The history of U.S. presidents pardoning turkeys is patchy. Harry Truman is often said to be the first president to pardon the turkey, which is not entirely true. He was the first to receive a ceremonial turkey from the National Turkey Federation – and he had it for dinner. John F. Kennedy was the first to let a turkey go, followed by Richard Nixon who sent his turkey to a petting zoo. George H.W. Bush is the president who formalized the turkey pardoning tradition in 1989.
5. There are four towns in the United States named “Turkey”. Found in Arizona, Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina.
6 . Retailers who kept their stores opened on Thanksgiving day, faced some backlash . As a result, many stores are reluctant to keep their stores open on Thanksgiving day. We expect some of these stores to start their Black Friday sale on Wednesday.
7 . Butterball answers more than 100,000 turkey-cooking questions via their Butterball Turkey Hotline each November and December.