From Pilgrim Pranks to Cranberry Capers: Get Ready to Feast on Fun with These Hilarious Thanksgiving Facts
It’s all about Thanksgiving facts to share around the dinner table. So, gather ’round, my fellow turkey enthusiasts and pumpkin pie aficionados, as we embark on a journey through the cornucopia of laughter and knowledge that is Thanksgiving!
Forget about calorie counting; we’re here to feast on 40 succulent facts that’ll leave you stuffed with more trivia than Uncle Bob after his third helping of mashed potatoes, from presidential poultry pardons to the untold saga of the first-ever Macy’s Parade balloon (spoiler alert: it involves a sassy Felix the Cat), our Thanksgiving extravaganza is a cornucopia of historical tidbits and quirky traditions that’ll have you giggling louder than Grandma’s secret eggnog recipe.
So, grab a drumstick, snag a spot on the couch, and prepare for a Thanksgiving journey that’s as wild as a turkey on the run from the Thanksgiving table!
- Plymouth Rock: Plymouth Rock, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, is believed to be the site where the Pilgrims first landed in 1620.
- Origins: Thanksgiving traces its roots to a 1621 feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts, between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans.
- National Holiday: In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday, setting it as the fourth Thursday in November.
- Turkey Tradition: The tradition of serving turkey at Thanksgiving can be attributed to the Pilgrims, who likely had wild turkey as part of their feast.
- First Proclamation: George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Day proclamation in 1789, but it still needed to be established as an annual event.
- Thanksgiving Charitable Activities: Many communities engage in charitable activities on Thanksgiving, such as volunteering at food banks or serving meals to those in need.
- Cranberry Sauce Origin: Native Americans already used cranberries for food and medicine when the Pilgrims arrived, and cranberry sauce has been a Thanksgiving staple ever since.
- Football Tradition: Watching football on Thanksgiving has become a tradition for many families, with the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys hosting games since the 1930s.
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade featured live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo in 1924.
- Thanksgiving Day Parades Worldwide: Several countries worldwide, including Canada, Brazil, and Switzerland, have their own versions of Thanksgiving Day parades.
- Thanksgiving Day Run/Walk: Many communities host “Turkey Trot” runs or walks on Thanksgiving morning to burn off calories before the big meal.
- Stuffing or Dressing?: The debate over whether it’s called stuffing or dressing depends on whether the dish is cooked inside or outside the turkey.
- Pumpkin Pie Tradition: Pumpkin pie became a Thanksgiving staple in the early 19th century, and today, millions are consumed each Thanksgiving.
- Black Friday: The day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, is one of the year’s busiest shopping days and marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
- Canadian Thanksgiving: Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving, but falls on the second Monday in October.
- Thanksgiving as a Harvest Festival: Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and has historically been a harvest celebration. Thanksgiving has its roots in European and Native American harvest festivals, which were common practices to give thanks for a bountiful harvest.
- Presidential Turkey Presentation: Since the 1940s, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey to the President as a symbol of the Thanksgiving turkey gift.
- First NFL Thanksgiving Game: In 1934, the Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears in the first Thanksgiving Day football game.
- Thanksgiving Greetings: The tradition of sending Thanksgiving greeting cards became popular in the early 20th century.
- Three Sisters Agriculture: Native American communities practiced “Three Sisters” agriculture, cultivating corn, beans, and squash, which are still key elements in many Thanksgiving meals.
- Thanksgiving Travel: Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times in the United States, with people often traveling long distances to be with family and friends.
- Pilgrim Menu: The original Pilgrim feast likely included venison, fowl (wild ducks and geese), seafood, corn, beans, squash, and pumpkin.
- Modern Thanksgiving Menu: While the original feast did not include mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or cranberry sauce, these items have become staples in Thanksgiving meals.
- Turkey Trots: In addition to the formal races, informal “Turkey Trots” – fun runs or walks – are organized by communities across the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day.
- Thanksgiving in Space: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station celebrate Thanksgiving with special, vacuum-sealed packets of traditional Thanksgiving foods.
- Thanksgiving as a Unifying Holiday: During the Civil War, President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a time to heal the nation’s wounds and unite people.
- Thanksgiving as a Religious Holiday: Some religious groups celebrate Thanksgiving to thank God for the year’s blessings.
- Turkey Pardoning: Since 1947, the President of the United States has officially pardoned a live turkey every year, saving it from becoming part of the Thanksgiving meal. The tradition of gifting a live turkey to the President has continued, with the turkeys often “pardoned” and sent to live out their days on a farm.
- Thanksgiving in the Armed Forces: U.S. military personnel worldwide celebrate Thanksgiving with special meals, often recreating traditional dishes.
- Thanksgiving in the Movies: The 1987 film “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and the 1995 film “Home for the Holidays” are both set around Thanksgiving.
- Thanksgiving Decorations: Cornucopias, also known as “horns of plenty,” is a popular Thanksgiving decoration symbolizing abundance and prosperity.
- Thanksgiving TV Specials: Classic TV specials like “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t” have become part of the holiday tradition for many families.
As we wrap up this Thanksgiving trivia marathon, remember: the real winner here is the person who can still button their pants after the grand feast.
Whether recovering from a post-turkey nap or strategizing your Black Friday shopping spree, let these Thanksgiving facts be the cranberry sauce on top of your knowledge feast.
May your leftovers be plentiful, your stretchy pants forgiving, and your family debates about stuffing versus dressing remain delightfully unresolved until next year. Until then, happy belated Turkey Day, and may your sense of humor be as well-seasoned as the gravy on Grandma’s mashed potatoes!