10 Interesting, Fun Facts About Thanksgiving

Updated on October 29, 2016

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love getting together with loved ones to make new memories, and I love stuffing myself with all the yummy food. Aside from the turkey, pumpkin pie, and football, have you ever wondered about the origins and traditions of Thanksgiving Day? Here is a list of 10 interesting fun facts about Thanksgiving that will give you more insight about the origins and traditions of the holiday.

1. The First Thanksgiving

Although there are several claims as to where the first Thanksgiving took place, the traditional story that we associate with Thanksgiving is the three day pilgrim celebration that took place in 1621 at Plymouth Colony, in present day Massachusetts. This is regarded as the first American Thanksgiving. Over 200 years later President Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation declaring the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. It wasn't until 1941 that Congress made Thanksgiving an official national holiday.

The First Thanksgiving.
The First Thanksgiving.

2. Pardoning The Turkey

Every year since 1947, the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is a ceremony that takes place at the White House a few days before Thanksgiving. During the ceremony the President of the United States is presented with one live turkey, and two fully-dressed turkeys. The president does not eat the live turkey, instead he "pardons" the bird and spares it from being slaughtered. After being pardoned, the turkey then gets to live out its days on a farm.

President Eisenhower Pardoning A Turkey.
President Eisenhower Pardoning A Turkey.

3. The Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The tradition of the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924 in New York City. The parade was originally known as Macy's Christmas Parade to help commence the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was launched by Macy's employees, and featured animals from the Central Park zoo. There were also not as many balloons in the parade then as there are now. Today it is estimated that about 3 million people attend the parade in New York City, and that about 44 million people watch the parade on TV from the comfort of their home. I have watched this parade almost every year of my life. It's a tradition that I look forward to every year.

The Famous Turkey From The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The Famous Turkey From The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

4. Busiest Travel Day Of The Year

Thanksgiving Day is the busiest travel day of the year. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has estimated that over 42 million Americans travel by car 50 miles or more over the holiday weekend. Another 4 million people fly the skies to visit their loved ones for the holiday.

5. The First Thanksgiving Feast

The first Thanksgiving feast in 1621 was not too different than our own traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Their feast consisted of turkey, venison, waterfowl, lobster, fish, clams, pumpkin, squash, berries, and fruit. Aside from the seafood, most of the foods that were eaten on that first Thanksgiving have become staples of our present-day Thanksgiving feast.

The First Thanksgiving Feast.
The First Thanksgiving Feast.

6. We Eat A lot Of Turkey

According to the National Turkey Federation, over 95% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Around 280 million turkeys are sold for Thanksgiving feasts. There Is no official reason as to why turkey is the food of choice for Thanksgiving meals. Turkeys were the most plentiful meat at the time of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, and ever since then we've carried on the tradition of eating turkey for Thanksgiving.

A Yummy Looking Thanksgiving Turkey.
A Yummy Looking Thanksgiving Turkey.

7. Cranberries Are More Than Just A Side Dish

Cranberries are one of only three fruits that are native to North America. Native Americans were the first to reap the many benefits of cranberries. Aside from eating cranberries, Native Americans used the red juice from cranberries a dye for clothing, rugs, and blankets. They also used cranberries as a medicine to treat ailments, and to treat arrow wounds. Native Americans believed in the medicinal use of cranberries long before scientists discovered their health benefits. Nowadays, cranberries are an essential side dish to our Thanksgiving feast.

Cranberries Waiting To Be Cooked.
Cranberries Waiting To Be Cooked.

8. Thanksgiving Postage Stamp

In 2001, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in honor of Thanksgiving. The stamp was designed by artist Margaret Cusack, and it was made to resemble traditional folk-art needlework. The stamp was created to commemorate the tradition of being thankful for the abundance of goods we enjoy in America.

2001 U.S. Postal Service Thanksgiving Stamp.
2001 U.S. Postal Service Thanksgiving Stamp.

9. The Wishbone Tradition

The wishbone of the turkey is used in a good luck tradition on Thanksgiving. The tradition consists of two people tugging on either end of the bone trying to win the larger piece. Whoever wins the larger piece gets to make a wish. This tradition dates back to the Etruscans of 322 B.C. The Romans brought the tradition with them when they conquered England, and the English colonists then proceeded to carry the tradition to America.

Breaking The Wishbone.
Breaking The Wishbone.

10. Football On Thanksgiving

In the United States, football is a major part of the Thanksgiving celebration. Dating back to the first college football game between Yale and Princeton that was held on Thanksgiving Day in 1876, football games have since become synonymous with Thanksgiving ever since. It's interesting to think that one football game played in 1876 would have such an impact and create a tradition that would be carried on for years to come.

Vintage Program For The 1929 Thanksgiving Football Game Between Cornell And Pennsylvania.
Vintage Program For The 1929 Thanksgiving Football Game Between Cornell And Pennsylvania.

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Danielle


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      • profile image


        20 months ago

        this is old

      • profile image


        20 months ago

        I think the most meaningful thing about Thanksgiving is that we get to see all of our family all together and we get to know the world actually around us.

      • profile image


        20 months ago

        Thanksgiving is a time of thanks.

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        thanksgiving is asowme

      • VintageGirl90 profile imageAUTHOR


        4 years ago from California

        I totally agree. I think it's such a shame that the true meaning of Thanksgiving is practically ignored in this day and age. It's funny because where I live there are actually a lot of turkeys that walk around town and even stop traffic from time to time. It's really quite the sight to see. However, every year at this time they always seem to go into hiding. I think they're onto us :D. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading :D. I really appreciate it and I'm so glad you enjoyed my Hub.

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        A great job on Thanksgiving Day...I love the information...Kudos to you for slowing down the growing pace of skipping this great traditional holiday and presenting facts on why it is still important...I still do not know how everyone eats turkey and the bird has not become extinct...cheers


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