30 Thanksgiving Facts That You Should Know
Thanksgiving revolves around meeting your family, eating a heavy meal of turkey for dinner, and sleeping in front of the TV while your father screams at his favorite team for losing again. But, one major part of Thanksgiving that many kids/teenagers don’t like is the weird political conversations at the dinner table. No doubt, you need something to talk about while passing the bowl of mashed potatoes, but why does it have to be a political discussion?
So, to make dinner table conversations more interesting this year, we have decided to put together a list of 30 weird/funny facts about Thanksgiving. Throw these facts at your family members, and you won’t have to sit through those never-ending political debates. Moreover, these facts will help you sound cool in front of everyone.
So, without wasting another second, let’s start with the first fact.
15 weird Thanksgiving facts
1. The first Thanksgiving lasted for three days
We all know that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621. But, did you know that the feast lasted for three days? The three-day feast was attended by both Pilgrims and Native Americans. The first Thanksgiving's key idea was to celebrate the first harvest, done by Pilgrims, and thank the Gods for their blessings.
2. Turkey was never served in the first Thanksgiving
As surprising as it may sound, but there is literally no historical event of turkey being served in the three-day feast. In fact, the Thanksgiving menu of the modern world is completely different from the first Thanksgiving. It is believed that the Pilgrims and Native Americans enjoyed other food items like lobster, seal, and swan.
3. The first Macy’s Parade had live animals
Today, you can’t expect a Macy’s parade to complete without giant floating balloons of your favorite cartoon characters. But, the visuals of the first Macy’s thanksgiving day parade were slightly different from what you see today. The first parade was held in 1924, and it had live animals like Elephants, Camels, and even Tigers. These animals were borrowed from the Central Park Zoo.
4. Thanksgiving was also celebrated on the third Thursday of November once
Ever since Lincoln declared Thanksgiving the National holiday, it’s a long-standing tradition to celebrate it on the fourth Thursday of November each year. But, in 1939, President Roosevelt decided to switch it one week before and celebrated on the third Thursday.
The main reason behind this unexpected switch was to boost the economy by adding seven more shopping days to the holiday season. However, his decision wasn’t appreciated by the majority of citizens, mainly football coaches who had to reschedule their football games. To be honest, this is one of the most interesting facts about Thanksgiving.
5. Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is not exclusive to Americans only, and many nations such as Germany and Canada also celebrate it. However, the Canadian version of Thanksgiving is quite similar to American Thanksgiving.
Canadians also celebrate the festival by enjoying a meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, beans with their family members. However, Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday of October, almost two months before the American Thanksgiving.
6. Canadian Thanksgiving came first
Even though there are no hard facts to prove this statement, it is believed that Thanksgiving in Canada was first celebrated in 1578. It means that Canada celebrated it almost half a decade before the first American Thanksgiving.
The legend says that it was English explorer Martin Frobisher who inaugurated the festival of Thanksgiving in Canada after safely reaching the dry-land with his crew members. They celebrated the night by eating beef, mushy peas, crackers and thanked God for their safe arrival.
7. George H.W. Bush pardoned the first turkey
Even though turkeys were gifted to the President before 1989, George H.W. Bush started the tradition of “pardoning a turkey.” The main reason behind this was to control the protest in front of the White House that was held by the Animal Rights Activist.
Since then, each President of the United States has followed the footsteps of Bush, and that’s why at least one turkey gets to live its entire life without getting slaughtered. After the “official pardon,” the turkey is sent to a farm where it lives for the rest of its life. Among many Thanksgiving day facts, the “official turkey pardon” is probably the weirdest one.
8. Astronauts also celebrate Thanksgiving in the International space station
People are always eager to know how astronauts live in the International Space Station. Even though they may not have a Thanksgiving day-off, they celebrate the festival up in the space.
According to NASA, even Astronauts enjoy the festival with a meal of turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, and desserts. So, if you also aspire to become an astronaut, you’ve got one more reason to work hard for your ambition.
9. The US has four cities named “Turkey”
Call it a coincidence or one of the weird facts about Thanksgiving, but there are four different cities in the US that are named turkey. In fact, some die-hard Thanksgiving fans have made it a tradition to visit one of these towns and enjoy turkey in Turkey.
These cities include Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; Turkey Creek, Louisiana; and Turkey City in Pennsylvania. So, once this COVID pandemic is in the rear-view mirror, you can also plan your Thanksgiving in these towns.
10. Americans enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers more than the dinner itself
If you think you’re the only one who loves the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potato leftover sandwich, you’re certainly wrong. Believe it or not, but nearly 80% of Americans enjoy the Thanksgiving leftovers more than the actual turkey meal. So, next time your mom asks you to stop this habit of eating the leftovers, tell her that you’re not alone.
11. Thanksgiving is the busiest day for plumbers
Who do you think will be the busiest person on Black Friday? Nike Sales Manager? Walmart Staff? Or Your Plumber? Well, if your answer is the third option, you’re on the right track.
Plumbers are the busiest people after Thanksgiving, all thanks to the food that they ate during the Thanksgiving dinner. Reports say that people call plumbers for a wide variety of reasons such as clogged up toilets, kitchen drains, and garbage disposals.
12. Thanksgiving history is sadder than you think
Yes, it’s a tradition to gather with your family and thank God for his blessings on a Thanksgiving dinner. But, to tell you the truth, Thanksgiving wasn’t always a festival of happiness and peace. After the Pilgrims arrived in the country, a conflict started between the European settlers and the Wampanoag people, which continued for several years.
Due to this never-ending conflict, millions of Native Americans lost their lives. If it wasn’t for the plague that wiped out the entire Wampanoag population, the pilgrims might not have settled in Plymouth. This means that we wouldn’t have been celebrating Thanksgiving today.
13. Britain has also started their own Thanksgiving
Brits have also joined hands with the Americans by celebrating their own version of Thanksgiving. Although they also eat turkey and mashed potatoes for dinner, they like to call the festival “Brits-giving.”
But, unlike American Thanksgiving, Brits-giving is not a national holiday, and only a small portion of Brits celebrate the festival. Still, this has to be one of the weirdest yet interesting facts about Thanksgiving.
14. Americans drink a lot before Thanksgiving Day
The previous night before Thanksgiving, officially known as “Drinksgiving,” is the only night in America when citizens consume comparatively more Alcohol. There’s a reason why everyone finishes up their work on Wednesday and hits the bar as soon as possible. Also, this night is considered to be the busiest night for bartenders as they pour drinks throughout the night.
15. “Jingle-Bells” was supposed to be a Thanksgiving song
“Jingle-Bells,” originally titled “One Horse Open Sleigh,” was composed to be a Thanksgiving song. But due to its popularity, Americans sang out throughout the holiday season in 1857, a tradition that continued for the following years.
However, after two years, the title was changed to “Jingle Bells,” and the song was declared as the official Christmas song. So, this Thanksgiving dinner, don’t be afraid to sing Jingle Bells while enjoying the last bites of turkey.
15 Funny Thanksgiving Facts
Now, let’s take a look at 15 funny facts about Thanksgiving that you might not know.
1. Tryptophan doesn’t make you tired
Yes, stop blaming the innocent turkey for making you feel sleepy and tired. Studies have already proven that tryptophan in turkey doesn’t cause sleepiness. In fact, chickens have comparatively more tryptophan than turkeys, but you don’t feel sleepy after eating chicken nuggets.
The only reason why you feel exhausted after Thanksgiving dinner is that you overate. Since the traditional Thanksgiving menu involves a lot of carbs, it’s common for people to fall asleep on the couch after their Thanksgiving dinner.
2. Americans eat a lot of turkeys on Thanksgiving
Being a traditional food-item on the Thanksgiving menu, it’s safe to say that Americans eat a lot of turkey for dinner. But, did you know that people eat almost 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving? It seems like the only turkey that gets to live during Thanksgiving is the one that received the official “pardon” from the President of the United States.
3. Pilgrims didn’t use forks for the first Thanksgiving feast
Can you imagine eating an entire turkey with a spoon and a knife? Well, unless you want to sit through the entire night to complete your dinner, you’re most likely to prefer forks over spoons.
But, turns out, in 1651, the only utensils that Pilgrims had were spoons and knives. They didn’t use forks to eat the feast, and that’s probably the reason why they didn’t serve turkey either.
4. Female turkeys don’t gobble
We’ve all heard this in school that turkeys like to “gobble.” But that’s not the entire truth. Instead of gobbling, female turkeys tend to cackle. This is one of the biggest factors that’ll help you distinguish between a male and a female turkey. Also, male turkeys are only referred to as “gobblers.”
5. An average person eats 4500 calories on Thanksgiving
In today’s world, everyone is extremely cautious about their physique. That’s why people have started to take their calorie intake quite seriously. But, this rule tends to break down on Thanksgiving dinner.
A report by the Calorie Control Council claims that an average American eats around 4500 calories on Thanksgiving. Apart from the start of the holiday season, Thanksgiving is also the time when people start putting on the “holiday weight.”
6. Only six runners participated in the first Turkey Trot
Today, turkey-trot has become a big deal in the United States. Thousands of foot races are organized across the country, and millions of people participate in them. But, the scenes at the first turkey-trot were slightly different from what we see today.
The first race was organized around a century back, and only 6 runners took part in it. What’s more strange is that only four of these runners crossed the finish line while two decided to give up. It’s safe to say that this has to be one of the most interesting facts about Thanksgiving.
7. Sarah Josepha Hale is the mother of Thanksgiving
For almost two centuries after the arrival of Pilgrims, Thanksgiving wasn’t declared an official holiday in the United States. We all know that Abraham Lincoln was the first president to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday, but someone else deserves more credit than Lincoln himself.
Sarah Josepha Hale, the writer of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” wrote a letter to President's office for 17 years. Her letter included a petition asking the president to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.
8. Not everyone eats turkey on Thanksgiving
There’s a reason why you don’t see people eating turkey throughout the year. Unlike chicken and beef, turkey isn’t the healthiest choice of protein. That’s why many people in the US have stopped eating turkey for Thanksgiving.
They enjoy their dinner with mashed potatoes, beans, and other healthy items on the Thanksgiving menu. Also, since people have started to stand for Animal rights, a lot of Americans are switching to a vegan diet these days. This has also reduced turkey consumption on Thanksgiving.
9. Thomas Jefferson didn’t declare a Thanksgiving holiday
Before Lincoln, it was a tradition for Each US president to announce the Thanksgiving holiday every year. But, Thomas Jefferson didn’t announce the holiday because he was strictly against the idea of mixing church with the government.
He strictly believed that Thanksgiving was related to prayers/church, and that’s why he was against the idea of declaring a national holiday on Thanksgiving. This was the only period when Americans didn’t enjoy Thanksgiving with a holiday.
10. Football has been played on Thanksgiving way before NFL
Here’s another fact about Thanksgiving; football has been played on Thanksgiving since 1876, almost 40 years before the NFL started in the US. The first football game was played between Yale and Princeton.
However, both the teams were facing off against each other since 1873. Also, the first official telecast of NFL matches started in 1934. This means that for almost 15 years, only the live audience was able to enjoy the NFL matches.
11. You can call butterball for cooking queries
Cooking turkey can be quite challenging, especially if it’s your first time. But, the good news is that you don’t have to go through this challenge alone. You can call the Butterball-hotline and ask as many cooking questions as you want to a culinary expert. As of now, their helpline receives more than 100,000 calls each Thanksgiving season, and they are always ready to help people.
12. Dallas Turkey Trot set a world record in 2011
Back in 2011, the Turkey trot in Dallas Texas set up a world record for the largest gathering of humans dressed up as turkeys. Nearly 600 runners dressed up as the Thanksgiving bird and ran through the streets of Dallas. This is a great inspiration for anyone who wants to do something different in life.
13. Americans eat 50 million pumpkin pies on Thanksgiving
Even though many people don’t like Pumpkin Pie, a large population in the country eats it on Thanksgiving. However, what’s more surprising is the fact it’s still not the most popular pie on the Thanksgiving dessert menu. Several surveys have revealed that people prefer Apple pie more than Pumpkin pie after their Thanksgiving dinner.
14. Detroit Lions have played football on Thanksgiving since 1934
Since the first official television broadcast of NFL games, Detroit Lions have played football every year. Despite their loss in the first match, the team remained faithful to the game and continued playing it every year on Thanksgiving dinner.
15. Football wasn’t played on Thanksgiving during world war II
World War II is one of the darkest periods in human history. Many American soldiers lost their lives in the war. While the country was still celebrating Thanksgiving and eating turkey with family, no NFL game was organized between 1941 and 1944.
So, that concludes our list of some of the most interesting facts about Thanksgiving. We hope that we have given you enough topics to start an interesting discussion at the dinner table this Thanksgiving. So, choose one of these topics and stay away from those boring political discussions that usually ruin the entire Thanksgiving dinner. Happy Thanksgiving!