Quirky Thanksgiving Trivia Facts To Impress Your Friends This Holiday
Thanksgiving traditionally revolves around family and food. And while we're all excited to dig into our favorite Thanksgiving recipes — things like turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie — it's important to remember how the holiday actually started, as well as the exciting ways we celebrate it today.
From which president tried to cancel Thanksgiving to how many calories the average American eats on the holiday, these Thanksgiving facts work perfectly as no-fuss conversation starters that won't launch arguments as you pass the peas. Not to mention, your guests will be totally impressed with all your Thanksgiving trivia knowledge. And if you need even more ways to break the ice, try sharing one of these hilarious Thanksgiving jokes or playing one of these fun Thanksgiving games.
1. The first Thanksgiving was actually a three-day celebration.
Today, Thanksgiving takes place on one day — maybe two if you count Black Friday. But that wasn't enough for the original Pilgrims. In November 1621, the settlers' first corn harvest proved successful and Governor William Bradford invited the Plymouth colonists' Native American allies to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Members of the Wampanoag tribe came bearing food to share and as they joined the Pilgrims, the revelers decided to extend the affair.
2. It's unclear if colonists and Native Americans ate turkey at their feast.
Nobody is quite sure if the almighty bird that now marks the centerpiece of our table was even on the menu back in 1621. However, they did indulge in other interesting foods like lobster, seal, and swan. The Wampanoag even brought five deer to the feast, so if you also enjoy venison at your autumn table, consider yourselves right in line with a longstanding tradition.
3. Today, a part of Plymouth, Massachusetts, looks just as it did in the 17th century.
Modeled after an English village and a Wampanoag home site, the historic attraction Plymouth Plantation stays true to its historic roots. And if you want to go way back to the original Thanksgiving table, you can. Guests can order tickets as early as June (May for members) to attend a Thanksgiving dinner complete with authentic courses like a corn pudding and fish fricassee, tales of colonial life, and centuries-old songs. Don't be too shy to join in the sing-along!
4. While president, Thomas Jefferson refused to declare Thanksgiving as a holiday.
Presidents originally had to declare Thanksgiving a holiday every year. However, Jefferson refused to recognize the event, because he strongly believed in the separation of church and state. Since Thanksgiving involved prayer and reflection, the president thought making it a national holiday would violate the First Amendment. He also thought it was better suited as a state holiday, not a federal one. But he never really explained himself to the public.
5. The woman behind "Mary Had a Little Lamb" is also responsible for Thanksgiving's recognition as a national holiday.
Writer and editor Sarah Josepha Hale convinced President Abraham Lincoln to officially declare Thanksgiving a national holiday that recurred every year after years of persistent lobbying. The author also founded the American Ladies Magazine, which promoted women's issues long before suffrage. She wrote countless articles and letters to persuade the president to recognize the holiday federally, which she believed could help unify the Northern and Southern states amid gathering tensions and divisions. Hale kept at it, even after the Civil War broke out, and Lincoln actually wrote the proclamation just a week after her last letter in 1863.
6. The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade didn't feature any balloons.
If you can't imagine the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade without giant floats featuring your favorite characters, you'd probably barely recognize the first parade in the early 1920s. It did have puppets riding the floats, as well as singers and celebrities and of course, Santa Claus. And when the Thanksgiving parade made its big debut in 1924, it did have something that might be even crazier than balloons: animals from the Central Park Zoo.