Want to impress your family and friends this year during Thanksgiving? Try offering these little-known Thanksgiving fun facts at the big meal:
- The first Thanksgiving feast took place at Plymouth, Mass. in 1621, but it looked much different than our modern day feasts. Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast. And the celebration lasted three days.
- Benjamin Franklin originally wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.
- The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition began in the 1924.
- In the U.S., about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations.
- Each year, the average American eats somewhere between 16-18 pounds of turkey.
- Turkeys have roughly 3,500 feathers at maturity.
- President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day as an official national holiday in 1863.
- 53 colonists attended the original Thanksgiving feast.
- The state of California consumes the most turkey.
- The first Thanksgiving was a three-day harvest feast shared by the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians in 1621.
- The pilgrims didn’t use forks at the first Thanksgiving. They ate with spoons, knives and their hands.
Everything that we know about the first Thanksgiving comes from two book passages from men who attended the first feast:
Edward Winslow, Mourt’s Relation:
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.
William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation:
They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.