Published: 2023-11-21 00:00:00
It's Thanksgiving week! The first Thanksgiving feast was a three day celebration in November of 1621. And turkey was NOT on the menu at that first Thanksgiving. Rather, venison, duck, goose, oysters, lobster, eel, and fish were likely served. Their side dishes probably included pumpkins and cranberries (but not pumpkin pie or cranberry sauce), porridge, and bread made from corn.
President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday on October 3, 1863. Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who wrote "Mary Had A Little Lamb," convinced Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday after writing letters for 17 years. While President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who officially made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of every November.
Each year, Americans prepare about 46 million turkeys and 50 million pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, last year, the average Thanksgiving dinner cost $64.05 per person.
Founding Father Benjamin Franklin once referred to turkeys as "a bird of courage." Another Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton, once proclaimed, "No citizen of the United States shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day."
According to a survey by the National Grocers Association, the top ten most popular Thanksgiving foods, listed in order of popularity, are turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing / dressing, gravy, rolls / bread, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes / yams, apple pie, cranberry sauce, and corn. The average number of calories consumed on Thanksgiving is 4,500!
While food is definitely part of the Thanksgiving Day tradition, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade is also a huge part for many American families. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade first had balloons in 1928. In recent years, there are about 8,000 people who participate in the parade each year along the 2.5 mile parade route.
Another American tradition is the NFL football games on Thanksgiving afternoon. Since its inception in 1920, the National Football League has played games on Thanksgiving Day. The Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys have hosted a game on Thanksgiving Day since 1966. This year, look for Packers vs. Lions, Commanders vs. Cowboys, and 49ers vs. Seahawks.
America is not the only country that celebrates a Thanksgiving Day. There are 11 others: Canada, Liberia, South India, Ghana, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, the Netherlands, Grenada, and China.