The holiday season is just around the corner, and with Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, it’s time to start celebrating and gathering with the family. But, before you devour the delicious food, there are lots of fun facts about the holiday to share with loved ones and get into the spirit of the season. Here are some fascinating Thanksgiving facts to share with your family this year.
A Brief History of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is an annual holiday celebrated mainly in the United States and Canada. It is a day of giving thanks for the blessings of the past year and a season of goodwill and joy. The holiday has its roots in colonial America, when Europeans celebrated the harvest and other special occasions.
The first Thanksgiving feast was held in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the Pilgrims gave thanks for their successful harvest. This feast was attended by 90 Wampanoag Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims. The menu for the feast included roasted deer, waterfowl, fish, lobster, clams, fruit, vegetables, and wild grain.
Since 1863, the United States has observed Thanksgiving as a national holiday. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date to the fourth Thursday of November so that Thanksgiving and Christmas would have a full month in between them.
Interesting Thanksgiving Facts
With so much history behind this holiday, there are plenty of interesting facts to share with your family. Here are a few of the most captivating Thanksgiving facts to get the conversations going this holiday season.
• The turkey was chosen to be the staple of the Thanksgiving feast because during the 17th-century, the wild turkey was considered a symbol of abundance.
• Contrary to popular belief, Thanksgiving pre-dates the American Revolution. The first Thanksgiving actually happened after the pilgrims had been living in America for two years.
• The famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924 when Macy’s employees decorated a few floats and animals from the Central Park zoo.
• The tradition of pardoning a turkey is believed to have started in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln granted a turkey for his son’s “Thanksgiving pet.”
• The Canadian version of Thanksgiving Day usually takes place one week earlier than the American celebration and is referred to as harvest festival.
• Americans consume an estimated 20 million turkeys annually during Thanksgiving.
• An unusual Thanksgiving delicacy enjoyed in colonial America was pumpkin pie, made of pumpkins, cream, honey, and spices.
• The most popular Thanksgiving side dish is mashed potatoes, followed by stuffing, yams, green bean casserole, and corn.
• Some of the unique Thanksgiving activities that colonists participated in include deer hunting, eating popcorn, and riding horses.
• The female Wild Turkey can lay up to 15 eggs each spring.
Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes
Nothing quite gets people in the Thanksgiving mood like a few traditional holiday dishes. Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes to try this season.
• Turkey – Roast it, fry it, smoke it, or bake it, the choice is yours!
• Stuffing or dressing – Whether you opt for sage or fruit-filled stuffing, it’s sure to be a family favorite.
• Mashed potatoes – Cover this buttery side with some gravy for a classic Thanksgiving dish.
• Cranberry sauce – No Thanksgiving is complete without this tart and sweet sauce.
• Biscuits – Whether they are made from scratch or boxed, these tender morsels are a must-have.
• Green bean casserole – This comfort food is made of creamy mushroom soup, green beans, and fried onions.
• Sweet potatoes – Loaded with butter, topped with marshmallows, and baked until your mouth is watering, you can’t go wrong with these.
• Cornbread – This delicious cornbread is moist and fluffy and a must for the holiday.
• Apple pie – It’s hard to go wrong with the classic Granny Smith apples and a flaky crust.
• Pumpkin pie – This creamy desert is made even better with a dollop of whipped cream on top.
Thanksgiving is known for its traditions. Here are some of the most popular ones.
• The first Thanksgiving feast was thought to include corn husks, fish, wildfowl, and venison.
• The Feast of the Hunters’ Moon was an 18th-century tradition practiced by the French-Canadian pioneers.
• The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924 and has since become an American tradition.
• The traditional Thanksgiving dinner includes Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, salad, and pumpkin pie.
• After the meal, the family tends to engage in activities such as watching football, playing board games, and talking about the past year.
• Parade-watch parties are another activity that families can partake in to celebrate Thanksgiving.
• The oldest known Thanksgiving Proclamation is from the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1676.
• The return of the Macy’s parade tradition in 1947 was televised for the first time.
• Thanksgiving dinner is often served with a prayer, thanking God for his provisions.
Unique Ideas for Celebrating Thanksgiving
Covid has limited the opportunities for gathering this holiday season, so these fresh ideas for celebrating Thanksgiving might come in handy.
• Movie Marathon – Pop some popcorn and watch your favorite Thanksgiving movies. Choose from classics such as Miracle on 34th Street and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, or new favorites like Home Alone, Free Birds, and The Grinch.
• Charitable Acts – Give back to the community and find ways to volunteer and make a difference in the lives of others.
• Thanksgiving Crafts – Gather the family and get creative with some seasonal crafts.
• Thanksgiving Dinner Potluck – Ask each family member to bring their favorite dish and make it a potluck dinner.
• Virtual Hangouts – Connect with relatives, friends, and loved ones via virtual hangouts and celebrate Thanksgiving with them.
• Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt – Challenge the whole family with a scavenger hunt indoors or outdoors and have a blast finding things.
Thanksgiving is a time to come together and give thanks for the bounty of the year and create timeless memories with family and friends. As you get ready for the holiday, we hope you enjoy digging into these fascinating Thanksgiving facts and that the fun ideas for celebrating will help you create a special day for everyone to remember.