11 Things You Should Know About Thanksgiving History
Thanksgiving Day has immense cultural value in the United States and several other parts of the world. In the US, Thanksgiving day marks the beginning of the holiday season. Everyone celebrates it by doing three things; watching football, spending time with family, and eating turkey for dinner. Did you even think about Thanksgiving's significance and why it has become such a big deal for every citizen in the US?
Like every other festival, even Thanksgiving has its own facts and myths. For instance, did you know that there is no evidence of turkey being served during the first Thanksgiving feast, celebrated back in 1621? So, if this was brand-new information for you as well, continue reading, as we have compiled a list of 11 Thanksgiving history facts that we bet you didn’t know earlier.
If anything, this will give you a new topic that you can discuss while waiting through those football commercials with your loved ones.
Several facts about Thanksgiving Day:
When Was the First Thanksgiving Celebrated?
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated back in 1621 by the Pilgrim Fathers. Even though the Pilgrims were simply celebrating the first harvest in the new world, the general idea behind the three-day feast was to thank God for their blessings. It is believed that both Pilgrims and the Native Americans attended this 3d-ays long feast.
Abraham Lincoln was the first president who announced Thanksgiving as a federal holiday in 1863. Since then, it’s been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year. Citizens enjoy this day with a delicious turkey dinner, and some family gossip around the dinner table.
Why Do the Dates of Thanksgiving Change?
Thanksgiving dates usually change each year. The major reason behind this is that it’s a tradition to celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November every year. Ever since Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving the national holiday, it’s been celebrated on the last Thursday of November. Since the last Thursday of November can fall on different dates, it’s common for Thanksgiving dates to change every year.
Why Celebrate Thanksgiving Day?
Everyone knows that celebrating Thanksgiving is a way to remember the first harvest of Pilgrims in the new world and the gathering of Pilgrims & Native Americans back in 1621. thank God for his blessings throughout the year.
But, Thanksgiving is a way to thank God for his blessings throughout the year. Also, since harvesting season begins in November in the US, it’s the right time to show your appreciation towards God. This is the major reason why Thanksgiving has become such a significant festival in the US.
Why Do People Eat Turkey On Thanksgiving Dinner?
Since the turkey was never served during the first Thanksgiving dinner, many people wonder why it became a crucial part of the traditional Thanksgiving menu forever. To be honest, there’s no cultural value to Turkey as such. In fact, there are three major reasons why turkey was considered the best option for Thanksgiving dinner.
First of all, a turkey is a big bird and can easily feed even a large family of 5-6 members. Secondly, the turkey was readily available on almost every family farm. Back in the day, the turkey was available in abundance and could be slaughtered easily as well.
The final reason for including turkey in the Thanksgiving dinner was that the bird didn’t have any utilitarian benefits. Unlike cows or chicken, the turkey didn’t provide milk or lay eggs. Due to these pragmatic reasons, people decided to include turkey on the Thanksgiving menu.
The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
Apart from eating Turkey and watching football in the evening, watching the live telecast of Macy’s parade is also a major part of celebrating Thanksgiving. Each year, the parade begins at 9 a.m. and continues till 12 p.m. But, do you know that the modern-day version of the parade is quite different from the first Macy’s parade.
For people who don’t know, the first Macy’s parade was held on November 27, 1924. Since then, it has become a long-standing tradition in Thanksgiving day history. But, unlike today, the parade didn’t have any character balloons. Instead, the first parade included animals such as monkeys, bears, elephants, etc. All these animals were borrowed from the Central Park Zoo.
Why Does the President of the United States Pardon a Turkey at Thanksgiving
On Thanksgiving, millions of Turkeys are slaughtered each year to feed the families of the United States. But, every year, the current president of the United States pardons at least one turkey and protects it from the slaughter. The bird is then sent to an animal sanctuary where it continues to live its life.
But, did you ever think what was the reason behind “pardoning a turkey” and why it became a tradition in Thanksgiving history? To be honest, “Turkey Pardon” became a tradition by accident. We all know that it was a tradition to gift a turkey to the President of the United States at the White House. But, in many cases, the president and his family would spar turkey’s life and send it to a farm.
However, in 1989, George H W Bush granted an official “presidential pardon” to the gifted turkey after animal rights activists started a protest outside the White House. Since then, each president of the country has kept the tradition alive by saving at least one Turkey from getting slaughtered.
Canadian Thanksgiving is Different
Canada shares many holidays with the US, and Thanksgiving is one of them. In fact, Canadian Thanksgiving is quite similar to Thanksgiving in the US in terms of tradition and history.
Both countries celebrate Thanksgiving to celebrate the first harvest of the season and thank God for his blessings. But, Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday of October, almost one month before the Canadian Thanksgiving.
The First Official Thanksgiving Football Game Was Played in 1920
Even though the first Thanksgiving football game was played in 1869, the first official NFL game was played on November 25, 1920. However, these games were not broadcasted live until 1934.
Also, to believe the official Thanksgiving history, there are no records of NFL games between 1941-1944 due to World War II. So, next time you sit down to watch an NFL game with your father on Thanksgiving, make sure to bring up these facts for sure.
America’s First Turkey Trot
Apart from watching football, eating Turkey, and watching the Macy’s parade, Turkey Trot is also a significant tradition of Thanksgiving. But, many people might not be familiar with the first Turkey Trot and how it all started.
The first Turkey Trot was organized almost a century ago in Buffalo, New York. What’s more surprising about the first Trot was that only six runners took part in it, four of which quit in between races.
There are Four Cities in the United States Named “Turkey”
Even though “turkey” didn’t get its name from these cities, there are four different places in the US that share the same name. These places include Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; Turkey Creek, Louisiana; and Turkey City in Pennsylvania.
People who are die-hard history fans and love their traditions have a habit of celebrating Thanksgiving in one of these cities. So, if you also want to make your next Thanksgiving more interesting, you can plan a trip to one of these places and spend the festival with your family there.
The Real History of Thanksgiving is a Bloody Struggle
If you think Thanksgiving is all about togetherness and happy moments, you’re certainly wrong. The history of Thanksgiving isn’t as fun as you may think. It is believed that even after they arrived in the country, the pilgrims faced a lot of challenges in the US.
For starters, they shared a never-ending conflict with the Wampanoag, which resulted in the deaths of millions of Native Americans. It took several years to peacefully settle in Plymouth, where they embraced a new beginning into the new world by celebrating the first Thanksgiving after the first harvest.
So, that concludes our list of 11 unheard facts about Thanksgiving day history.