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Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving facts

To give thanks for Thanksgiving, I've assembled some fun facts about this scrumptious holiday:

The First Thanksgiving
  • Though the earliest attested Thanksgiving celebration was on September 8, 1565 in what is now Saint Augustine, Florida, the traditional "first Thanksgiving" is venerated as having occurred at the site of Plymouth Plantation, in 1621. The Plymouth celebration occurred early in the history in one of the original thirteen colonies that became the United States, and this celebration became an important part of the American myth by the 1800s. (From Wikipedia.com)
  • The first winter was devastating to the Pilgrims. The cold, snow and sleet was exceptionally heavy, interfering with the workers as they tried to construct their settlement. March brought warmer weather and the health of the Pilgrims improved, but many had died during the long winter. Of the 110 Pilgrims and crew who left England, less that 50 survived the first winter. (From Holidays.net)
  • Squanto's importance to the Pilgrims was enormous and it can be said that they would not have survived without his help. It was Squanto who taught the Pilgrims how to tap the maple trees for sap. He taught them which plants were poisonous and which had medicinal powers. He taught them how to plant the Indian corn by heaping the earth into low mounds with several seeds and fish in each mound. The decaying fish fertilized the corn. He also taught them to plant other crops with the corn. (From Holidays.net)


The Holiday
  • This historic proclamation was issued by George Washington during his first year as President. It sets aside Thursday, November 26 as "A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer." (From EarlyAmerica.com)
  • Later, on October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for the observance of the fourth Tuesday of November as a national holiday. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November (to extend the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy). After a storm of protest, Roosevelt changed the holiday again in 1941 to the fourth Thursday in November, where it stands today. (From EarlyAmerica.com)
  • Various Thanksgiving-type celebrations were held irregularly during the fall months for nearly 150 years before it was suggested by the Continental Congress that the country should have a national day of Thanks. Some historians suggest that this was a political move as much as anything. The emerging country was in need of its own traditions and customs to help create a separate non-English, American identity. Thanksgiving was perfect because it was a way to honor the pilgrims, the people who originally left England to be free of persecution. (From HistoryofThanksgiving.net)
  • In a unique Thanksgiving ceremony at the White House, American President pardons the Thanksgiving Turkey at the last minute before his execution, thus, sparing his life and granting him a secure life for as long as it lives. It is said that this tradition was first observed in 1947 and was conceived by Harry Truman. (From ThanksgivingWorld.com)


The Meal
  • Today we have mashed potatoes, yams, squashes and other veggies, but neither the pilgrims nor the Indians had any way to keep vegetables fresh that far into fall. Another major difference is the lack of desserts at the first Thanksgiving. Today, dessert is a major part of the Thanksgiving meal. However by autumn of 1621, the pilgrims were running low on sugar and probably didn’t make any pumpkin pie or peach cobbler. (From HistoryofThanksgiving.net)
  • In a survey conducted by the National Turkey Federation, nearly 88 percent of Americans said they eat turkey at Thanksgiving. The average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds, which means some 690 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the U.S. during Thanksgiving in 2007. (From History.com)
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured just over 12 feet long. It was baked on October 8, 2005 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio, and included 900 pounds of pumpkin, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, 155 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of sugar, 3.5 pounds of salt, 7 pounds of cinnamon, 2 pounds of pumpkin spice and 250 pounds of crust. (From History.com)


Football
  • The first time the Detroit Lions played football on Thanksgiving Day was in 1934, when they hosted the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit stadium, in front of 26,000 fans. The NBC radio network broadcast the game on 94 stations across the country--the first national Thanksgiving football broadcast. Since that time, the Lions have played a game every Thanksgiving (except between 1939 and 1944); in 1956, fans watched the game on television for the first time. (From History.com)
  • Even though he knew there was some risk in scheduling a game on Thanksgiving Day, Richards (Detroit team owner) also recognized that his Lions were taking a back seat to the baseball Tigers on the sports pages. So as one way of attracting Motor City fans during the team's first season, he opted for the Thanksgiving Day contest. (From ProFootballHOf.com)


Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • Originally known as Macy's Christmas Parade—to signify the launch of the Christmas shopping season—the first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in New York City in 1924. It was launched by Macy's employees and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo. Today, some 3 million people attend the annual parade and another 44 million watch it on television. (From History.com)
  • It actually stems from European tradition. In the 1920's many of Macy's department store employees were first-generation immigrants. Proud of their new American heritage, they wanted to celebrate the American holiday with the type of festival they loved in Europe. (From NYCTourist.com)
  • The 1940's saw an end to the Parade since there wasn't much to celebrate during World War II. Also, the rubber and helium could not be wasted. The Parade resumed in 1945, and was televised in New York. The Parade also began the route that it still runs today. (From NYCTourist.com)


Happy Thanksgiving!

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