Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Several other places around the world observe similar celebrations. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada.
The First Thanksgiving
The first American Thanksgiving was observed in 1621 when Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to celebrate the harvest produced by the Plymouth Colony after a severe winter. George Washington was the first president to declare thanksgiving a holiday, in 1789.
For your dining pleasure and in the interest of providing stimulating conversation around family and friends, here are some interesting facts about Thanksgiving and that delicious gobbler that holds a special place dear to our hearts and dinner tables.
- Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.
- The first national celebration of Thanksgiving was declared in 1775 by the Continental Congress. This was to celebrate the win at Saratoga during the American Revolution.
- Abraham Lincoln issued a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’ on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving.
- The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition began in the 1920’s.
- In 1939, President Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving would take place on November 23rd, not November 30th, as a way to stimulate economic growth and extend the Christmas shopping season.
- Congress passed a law on December 26, 1941, declaring Thanksgiving would fall on the fourth Thursday of November every year.
Fun Turkey Facts
- Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey and two dressed turkeys to the President. The President does not eat the live turkey. He “pardons” it and allows it to live out its days on a historical farm.
- In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations.
- Each year, the average American eats somewhere between 16 – 18 pounds of turkey.
- Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.
- The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.
- The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.
- A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
- Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef.
- Turkeys will have 3,500 feathers at maturity.
- Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. They make a clucking noise.
- Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly.
- A large group of turkeys is called a flock.
- Turkeys have poor night vision.
- It takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30 pound tom turkey.
- A 16-week-old turkey is called a fryer. A five to seven month old turkey is called a young roaster.
- Since Harry Truman, every president has pardoned a turkey for Thanksgiving.
What are you thankful for? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!