Thanksgiving is just around the corner and dinner might not be the only thing on your mind. With many families and friends gathering to spend time on this vacation, you may think of all the different topics that you will discuss. Why not talk about the holiday itself? Most people are familiar with the traditional foods served on Thanksgiving and have at least a vague idea of the first Thanksgiving, but not everyone knows everything there is to know about this special day.
This list of 45 Thanksgiving facts is not only educational, but also festive! And it might distract your great-aunt Betsy enough to Not discuss your love life.
45 Funny Thanksgiving Facts
1. The first Thanksgiving
The Mayflower Pilgrims founded the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts and in 1621 shared a three-day meal with the Wampanoag tribe.
2. US cities named Turkey
There are four and they are located in Texas, Arizona, Louisiana and North Carolina.
3. Estimated number of turkeys prepared
An estimated 46 million turkeys are prepared for the traditional festival each year.
4. Soccer Teams
The Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions played the most games on Thanksgiving Day. The Lions have played almost every Thanksgiving since 1934 and the Cowboys since 1966.
Related: Recipes That Prove Thanksgiving Is Best
5. October 3, 1863
On this day, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.
6. Average cost of Thanksgiving dinner
The average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner is $53.31 for 10 guests.
7. Dinner plans
13 percent of Americans plan to order takeout or go to a restaurant rather than cook Thanksgiving dinner.
8. Turkey Calories
Every year, Americans combined consume three billion calories from turkey alone. Imagine what that number would be if all the other dishes were included!
9. 3,150-4,500 calories burned
You read that right. That’s the average number of calories each person eats on this holiday!
10. 9 hours and 27 minutes
This is the time it takes an average man to burn 4,500 calories. The second piece of cake is definitely worth it!
11. Turkeys sent to the White House
The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is a ceremony where a live turkey is presented to the President each year.
See also: Thanksgiving Presidential Turkey Pardon: when did the tradition start and which president started it?
The first year a President (George HW Bush) officially pardoned a turkey.
13. The Oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade
While the Macy’s parade is certainly the most popular these days, the oldest goes to a Philadelphia department store parade in 1920. The Philadelphia Gimbel Brothers Department Store held a parade with just 50 people and 15 cars, ending with Santa Claus on his sleigh around the coming ring in the Christmas season.
14. The first feast
While turkey is now the front-runner on Thanksgiving fare, the first Thanksgiving guests tended to eat more local foods, including deer. Turkey was probably served but it wasn’t the main course.
Before Lincoln officially declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, the President had to declare the holiday every year. However, Thomas Jefferson refused to do so. He felt that the holiday prayer it contained violated the separation of church and state.
16. Religious holiday
The first recorded religious harvest festival took place two years after the first festival in 1621, marking the end of a two-month drought.
17. Average guests
The average number of guests around a modern Thanksgiving dinner table is 10.
18. A toast to thank you
The most popular drinks for toasting Thanksgiving are wine, beer, and whiskey (in order of popularity).
19. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
Balloons are extremely important in Macy’s Parade these days. However, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade didn’t have any balloons at all! Instead, animals from the Central Park Zoo were included in the procession.
20. Frozen TV Dinner
This convenient form of dinner came about through a mistake. A Swanson employee accidentally ordered 260 tons of turkey for Thanksgiving in 1953. So the solution to the problem was to sell the entire turkey as frozen food!
21. Thanksgiving preparations
A whopping 47 percent of Thanksgiving hosts take time off work to properly prepare for the celebration.
22. Preparation time
The average time it takes a host to prepare this feast is 9.6 hours!
23. Football tradition
The tradition of a football game played on Thanksgiving began in 1876 with Princeton and Yale.
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24. NFL tradition
The National Football League followed the tradition of a game played on Thanksgiving Day in 1920. This game was between the Akron Pros and the Canton Bulldogs.
Related: Thanksgiving Trivia
25. Thanksgiving trip
31 percent of Americans travel on Thanksgiving Day, and 47 percent of those travelers drive.
26. First turkey trot
The first turkey trot hosted only six contestants. The race took place in 1896, was five miles long and held in Buffalo, New York.
27. 2011 Turkey trot
The YMCA race, held in Dallas, Texas that year, broke the world record for most contestants dressed as turkeys. A total of 661 runners donned feather costumes to run the race.
28. Devour, devour
Female turkeys cluck. Only male turkeys actually eat, which is why they are aptly called “eaters”.
29. Meaning of Pumpkin Pie
In 1705, the city of Colchester, Connecticut canceled Thanksgiving because they could not bake pumpkin pies. The river was frozen, leaving their import of liquid sugar inaccessible. The holiday was only postponed by about a week.
30. Rebecca Raccoon
Calvin Coolidge was gifted a live raccoon in 1926 by Mississippi resident Vinnie Joyce. The gift was to be used as a Thanksgiving dinner. However, Coolidge became attached to the raccoon, keeping him as a pet and naming him Rebecca.
31. The Mother of Thanksgiving
Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” was named Mother of Thanksgiving after years of campaigning to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Numerous letters finally paid off in 1863 when President Lincoln officially declared it a national holiday.
32. Third Thursday
Thanksgiving doesn’t always happen on the fourth Thursday of the month. In 1939, President Roosevelt pushed the holiday back a week to allow for more shopping days after Thanksgiving to stimulate the economy. The change was not very popular, and in 1942 Thanksgiving was again moved to the fourth Thursday.
33. Traditional dinner
While turkey is the first thing that springs to mind when Thanksgiving is mentioned, not everyone enjoys it for Thanksgiving dinner. However, 88 percent of Americans do.
34. Fat intake
The average American consumes 229 grams of fat on this holiday!
35. Norfolk Island
This is the only known area in Australia to celebrate Thanksgiving. The tradition began when American ships stopped on the island on their whaling voyages in the 19th century.
36. Pardoned Turkeys
What happens to the turkeys that every president pardons? They continue to gobble and cackle their lives happily. Two in particular, from 2005 and 2009, were sent to Disneyland and Walt Disney World to be included in their annual Thanksgiving parades.
Related: Thanksgiving activities for kids
37. The best part of Thanksgiving
According to most Americans, the best thing about Thanksgiving is actually the leftovers!
38th Butterball Turkey Talks Line
Each year, the Butterball Turkey Talkline receives approximately 100,000 calls asking how best to cook a turkey. They even have a 24 hour SMS line if you prefer that form of communication.
39th Canadian Thanksgiving Day
America is not the only country celebrating this holiday. Canada celebrates the festival following English explorer Martin Frobisher’s successful voyage from England to Canadian territories in 1578.
40. Number of pumpkin pies consumed
Every year, Americans eat an estimated 50 million pumpkin pies. And to think that pumpkin is my favorite pie after apple!
41. Shopping enthusiasts
With over 32 million participants, Black Friday is America’s biggest shopping day of the year!
See also: It’s not too late! Shop big mark downs on TVs, AirPods and more in Amazon’s Black Friday 2022 lead-up
42. Plumbing problems
Black Friday is also the biggest day of the year for plumbers. Due to the influx of trash cans, kitchen drains, and toilets from multiple guests, plumbers have their busiest days right after Thanksgiving.
43. Not just for Thanksgiving
The last Thursday in November is also known as National Day of Mourning. While European settlers fled to North America, hoping to escape persecution in their homeland, they in turn persecuted the native peoples in the new land. Beginning in the 1970s, people gathered at the top of Cole’s Hill, which overlooks Plymouth Rock, to commemorate the conflicts that took place between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag and led to the tribe’s near extinction.
44. Not just for sauce
Cranberries definitely make a delicious sauce! But aside from this delicious dish, Native Americans had many uses for the berry. These included healing wounds, dyeing cloth, and consuming it raw, as well as using it in many other recipes.
45. Jingle Bells
Written in 1857 by James Lord Pierpont and originally titled One Horse Open Sleigh, Jingle Bells was intended to be sung on Thanksgiving, not Christmas. When it was reprinted in 1859, the title was officially changed and it was adopted primarily as a Christmas carol.
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