It’s that time of year again. Yes, Thanksgiving is almost upon us. It’s a period where festivities reign supreme long before anywhere else and when turkey cooking doesn’t just become a matter of pride but a battle with the in-laws over who cooked it better. But away from oneupmanship and raiding your local frozen meats section, the holiday itself has a beautiful meaning behind it.
While you may know the basics of the holiday, delve deeper into its history, and you’ll be amazed at what you didn’t know. Read on below as we list 10 cool Thanksgiving facts that will put you in the festive mood.
1. Thanksgiving was initially a three-day holiday
Many people outside North America have a hard time equating a holiday as celebrated as Thanksgiving to one which only sees it citizens take one day off a year. Unlike Christmas and the New Year celebrations which typically see Americans take more time off than any other year, Thanksgiving has normally consisted of one public holiday- or two if you count Black Friday as some companies do.
However, it wasn’t always like this. The first celebration of the beginning of harvest in 1621, as orchestrated by Governor William Bradford, saw him invite the Plymouth colonists' Native American allies, but after the Wampanoag guests also joined the party, they extended the celebrations another two days.
2. It is unlikely turkey was eaten in the inaugural feast
Who’d have thought?! While you may see turkey as a key component of a good Thanksgiving feast, the meat itself is unlikely to have been consumed in the 1600s- at least not to the degree it is today.
While there is no concrete proof that turkey wasn’t offered, it is hard to determine if it was. However, other foods that historians have verified were included lobster, seal, and swan. Luxury entrees, indeed, and foods many Americans nowadays probably wouldn’t be able to afford.
3. An area of Plymouth, Massachusetts looks exactly as it did in 1600s’ New England
While various parts of the East coast were modeled on the bucolic beauty of their transatlantic neighbors, much of New England remains a shadow of what it was in the days of the early settlers. Of course, this is to be expected, but one area of Plymouth, Massachusetts remained true to its origins by preserving the historic attraction and turning it into a lucrative tourist spot.
The Plimoth Plantation has stayed true to its colonial history and even offers customers an authentic Thanksgiving dinner. How cool is that?
4. Thomas Jefferson didn’t recognize Thanksgiving as a holiday
Pretty scandalous, right? Well, not quite. While Thomas Jefferson’s stance may seem provocative and insensitive, Jefferson believed he was simply following presidential scripture- a scripture he helped craft as one of the founding fathers.
Not wanting to compromise his passionate belief in the separation of church and state, Jefferson believed that the holiday had many religious connotations, and as it involved prayer, he did not want to violate the First Amendment by recognizing it as a holiday.
It wasn’t until the middle of the American Civil War that Abraham Lincoln, long considered America’s greatest ever president, proclaimed Thanksgiving a holiday on the final Thursday of November.
5. An estimated 46 million Americans cook turkeys each Thanksgiving Day
This tradition of turkey eating applies on Christmas too, but it is on Thanksgiving where the meat is most consumed. On Christmas, people remain turkeytastic, with an estimated 22m families cooking one on Christmas Day. However, that pales in comparison to the 46m cooked on Thanksgiving Day.
The history behind the meat is also interesting. While historians have ascertained that turkey was unlikely to have been eaten between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, the bird itself is uniquely American and was written about by Bradford in his days hunting them. And after Lincoln officially declared Thanksgiving a holiday, the history of hunting the bird soon caught traction as the holiday’s meal of choice.
6. A typical Thanksgiving meal can contain up to 229 grams of fat
You probably already knew that the abundance of delicious food you consume on Thanksgiving isn’t healthy, but we’re still going to be real with you. While we hate to be the bearers of bad news, an entire meal on such a sacred day can total over 3,000 calories.
So next time you decorate your turkey in a rich, creamy, aromatic sauce that tastes so good you could quite easily drink it on its own, think about all those calories!
7. Pardoned turkeys lead interesting lives
The first turkey to be pardoned was in 1989 under the one-term president, George H.W. Bush. The silly but amusing tradition is one that has continued to this day. Still, for the lucky few turkeys chosen, the annual tradition can lead to some excellent experiences for an animal that would have otherwise ended up on our plates.
In 2005 and 2009, for instance, pardoned turkeys were taken to Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks as grand marshals in Disney’s Thanksgiving parades. From 2010 to 2013, they even had the privilege of holidaying at Washington’s Mount Vernon state.
8. Black Friday is big business for plumbers
While you might presume that Black Friday is big business for retailers, which of course it is, the bemouth shopping holiday is also a time which sees a spike in demand for plumbers due to the excessive amount of food consumed the day before.
In a report from Roto-Rooter, as well as clogged kitchen drains and overflowing garbage bins, toilets require declogging and fixing due to people's stomachs releasing a whole lot of.... waste.
9. 32 million thirsty shoppers spend Black Friday on Thanksgiving
To get ahead early in the race for the ultimate bargain/s, many shoppers choose to spend the day in the mall as opposed to at the dinner table. According to a report from the National Retail Federation, however, it is still Balck Friday that sees the most sales, both physical and online.
Black Friday itself draws 115m into America's shops, which just goes to show how much we Americans love our consumerist culture.
10. Are leftovers better than the actual meal?
A whopping 8 in 10 Americans revealed in a 2015 Harris Poll that the leftovers of their Thanksgiving meal were tastier than the actual meal! Yep, a second helping, probably heated in a microwave, of pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and stuffing is better than the freshly prepared meal. Oh, America... How weird we all are!
From everyone here at OMG Lane, we wish you a fantastic Thanksgiving, full of rich conversation, tasty food, and joyous company.