Thanksgiving. A time for giving thanks, spending time with family, and for some, watching football. An age-old tradition, seemingly simplistic in nature, but chalk full of history and interesting tidbits you might not know. Below are 11 Thanksgiving facts to share around the dinner table this year.
1. Turkeys are Doomed from Birth
Poultry includes chickens, turkey, ducks and geese. The United States Department of Agriculture (or USDA) further classifies (and names) poultry based on the age, sex, weight and type of bird. A turkey younger than 12 weeks of either sex is known as a fryer-roaster turkey.
2. Plumbers – Rest Up
What is the busiest day of the year for plumbers? According to RotoRooter, it’s the day after Thanksgiving. RotoRooter advises caution when tossing out all those Thanksgiving scraps – citing both clogged garbage disposals and drains as the primary reason for call-outs.
3. Cranberries since Inception? Probably Not
Cranberries in their original state are tart. As it’s improbable that the pilgrims brought sugar (which was expensive) over on the Mayflower, cranberries most likely were not included in the first Thanksgiving celebrations.
4. Detroit Lions – Take a Bow
That’s right, the Detroit Lions should be thanked for the tradition of watching football on this annual holiday each year. Dating as far back as 1934, when, in an effort to maximize marketing efforts, the first football game between the Lions and the Bears was broadcast nationally.
5. Food, Football, and Family – What’s Not to Like?
Turns out not everyone liked the idea of Thanksgiving when it was first announced by President George Washington in 1789. Some citizens felt that state governors should be the ones making such a declaration, while others felt it was too religious in nature.
6. Fasting Prompted Thanksgiving
Who would believe that the feast that Thanksgiving is known for today was prompted by fasting? The second Thanksgiving was held in 1623 to celebrate the end of a drought and religious fasting.
7. Pumpkin: A Second Favorite when it comes to Pies
Originally introduced to the Thanksgiving dinner table by Pilgrims in 1623, pumpkin pie is still among the most desired pies according to a survey conducted by Crisco in 2008. Apple pie was rated as the number one choice, followed closely by pumpkin pie. And, although mostly known as a great dessert, many Americans confess to having pie for breakfast, lunch and as midnight snacks too.
8. Cranberries: An Exceptionally Versatile Fruit
Where cranberries in our modern culture are likely used primarily as a food, early settlers had many uses for cranberries. In some cases, the rich color in the cranberries were used as a dye for porcupine quills used for clothing and jewelry. In other cases, the leaves from the cranberry plant were used a tobacco substitute.
9. Communities Named Turkey
When referring to a location described as Turkey, many think of Turkey, the country, straddling Europe and Asia. It turns out though, that there are three communities within the United States named Turkey; Turkey, Texas; Turkey Creek, Louisiana; and Turkey, North Carolina.
10. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Used to Feature Live Animals
Macy’s modern Thanksgiving Day Parade features extremely large balloon characters (test your knowledge of previous parades here). However, between 1924 and 1926, live animals like goats and tigers (borrowed from the Central Park Zoo) roamed the streets of the New York Parade Route.
11. Lambs and Turkeys: Oh My!
The writer of the poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, Sarah Josepha Hale, was a novelist and magazine editor. She is also known as the Mother of Thanksgiving, as it was largely her push to make Thanksgiving a national holiday; one of many Thanksgiving facts to be eternally grateful for.
Want to learn more Thanksgiving facts? How about trying some of our Thanksgiving-themed quizzes here.