How many times have you celebrated Thanksgiving? Year after year, we’d cook a turkey, preferably the largest one we’d find. We’d mash potatoes, shuck corns, and blanch beans. But do you know what you’re celebrating? Do you know what the pilgrims ate at the first Thanksgiving meal? Was there a green bean casserole in the first Thanksgiving?
Take a moment to read through these interesting Thanksgiving trivia, so you’d enjoy the day with a little more understanding of this celebration.
1. A National Holiday
It was President Abraham Lincoln who declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday. This was after Sarah Joseph Hale, a magazine editor, tirelessly campaigned for the recognition. Ms. Hale is also the author of the famous nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
2. Thanksgiving and TV Dinners
In 1953, someone from Swanson Company (a subsidiary of Campbell Soup) overestimated the number of turkeys that would sell during Thanksgiving by 260 tons! So, an employee, Gerry Thomas, suggested slicing up the unsold meat and repackaging them with corn bread stuffing, peas and sweet potatoes. This was the start of the first TV dinner. So, perhaps, we could blame - or maybe thank - Thanksgiving for TV dinners.
3. The Green Bean Casserole
The green bean casserole didn’t grace the tables of the pilgrims. The dish was actually created 50 years ago. The Campbell's developed it. The company was then creating new recipes for their annual cookbook. Now, they sell over $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup each year, an ingredient to make the casserole.
4. The Respectable Turkey
Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the country’s national bird? In a letter he wrote to his daughter, he described the eagle as a bird with a seemingly “bad moral character.” He thought the turkey is a “much more respectable bird.”
5. Canadian Thanksgiving
Although Thanksgiving was born in the United States, Canadians celebrate it as well; although, they have it on the second Monday of October.
6. Thanksgiving, Turkey Stuffing, and Football
Thanksgiving and football did not always go hand in hand. This actually started in 1934 when a radio executive, G.A. Richards, bought the Portsmouth, Ohio Spartans NFL team, moved them to Detroit, and renamed them the Detroit Lions. Trying to build up a fan base, he scheduled a football game for Thanksgiving between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears. The Bears were the world champions at that time. The game was broadcasted live on radio, and it was a success. This started the tradition.
7. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
This parade was started in 1924 when 400 Macy’s employees march off from the Convent Avenue and 145th Street in New York City. During the first parade, live animals from the Central Park Zoo – from camels to elephants – accompanied the marchers. Now, oversized balloons of cartoon characters grace the parade yearly.
8. A Three-Day Celebration
Did you know that Thanksgiving used to be a 3-day celebration? Apparently, the pilgrims used to party hard! Governor William Bradford of Plymouth (present-day Massachusetts) organized the feast, inviting Native American allies to celebrate with them. When the Wampanoag Indians came to join the feast, they extended the celebration into a three-day affair.
9. The First Thanksgiving Turkey
Did the colonists and Native Americans enjoy a turkey at the first Thanksgiving? There is no definite proof that they enjoyed the roasted bird that we enjoy year after year. However, they did enjoy a selection of enjoyable feasts like lobsters, swans, and even seals!
10. The Plimoth Plantation
There is a historic attraction in a special part of Plymouth, Massachusetts where you can celebrate Thanksgiving complete with authentic colonial courses and centuries-old hymns. The Plimoth Plantation is modeled after an English village. It is a Wampanoag home site.
11. No Forks?!
Of the three dining utensils, the fork was not present during the very first Thanksgiving feast. The pilgrims used knives, spoons – and their fingers! The pilgrims did not bring forks with them.
12. The Black Friday
Frustrated by traffic and foot congestion caused by shoppers, Philadelphia police officers started referring to the day as “Black Friday.” The phrase remained a city quirk for a long time. The term began to become widespread around the mid-90s, but it became consistently used around the 2000s.
So, did you know any of these interesting Thanksgiving trivia?
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