So, you are sitting down at the Thanksgiving table, into your second helping of potatoes and pumpkin pie and all of a sudden, the conversation turns towards today’s political climate. If you don’t want to partake in the conversation and steer the conversation towards something else, here are some fun trivia facts I found while doing some Thanksgiving research, courtesy of History.com
What did they eat at the first Thanksgiving?
The Thanksgiving meal in Plymouth probably had little in common with today’s traditional holiday spread. Although turkeys were indigenous, there’s no record of a big, roasted bird at the feast. The Wampanoag brought deer and there would have been lots of local seafood (mussels, lobster, bass) plus the fruits of the first pilgrim harvest, including pumpkin. No mashed potatoes, though. Potatoes had only been recently shipped back to Europe from South America.
When did America first call for a national Thanksgiving?
America first called for a national day of Thanksgiving to celebrate victory over the British in the Battle of Saratoga. In 1789, George Washington again called for national day of thanks on the Thursday of November in 1777 to commemorate the end of the Revolutionary War and the ratification of the Constitution. And during the Civil War, both the Confederacy and the Union issued Thanksgiving Day proclamations following major victories.
Which president refused to recognize Thanksgiving?
Thomas Jefferson was famously the only Founding Father and early president who refused to declare days of Thanksgiving and fasting in the United States. Unlike his political rivals, the Federalists, Jefferson believed in “a wall of separation between Church and State” and believed that endorsing such celebrations as president would amount to a state-sponsored religious worship.
How did a botched Thanksgiving order lead to the TV tray dinner?
In 1953, an employee at C.A. Swanson & Sons overestimated demand for Thanksgiving turkey and the company was left with some 260 tons of extra frozen birds. As a solution, Smithsonian reports, a Swanson salesman ordered 5,000 aluminum trays, devised a turkey meal and recruited an assembly line of workers to compile what would become the first TV tray dinners. A culinary hit was born. In the first full year of production, 1954, the company sold 10 million turkey TV tray dinners.
Why is football a Thanksgiving tradition?
The winning combo of football and Thanksgiving kicked off way before there was anything called the NFL. The first Thanksgiving football game was a college match between Yale and Princeton in 1876, only 13 years after Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday. Soon after, Thanksgiving was picked for the date of the college football championships. By the 1890s, thousands of college and high school football rivalries were played every Thanksgiving.
Who was the first president to pardon a turkey?
Starting in the 1940s, farmers would gift the president with some plump birds for roast turkey over the holidays, which the first family would invariably eat. While President John F. Kennedy was the first American president to spare a turkey’s life (“We’ll just let this one grow,” JFK quipped in 1963. “It’s our Thanksgiving present to him.”) the annual White House tradition of “pardoning” a turkey officially started with George H.W. Bush in 1989.
Which president tried to move the date of Thanksgiving and why?
Concerned that the Christmas shopping season was cut short by a late Thanksgiving, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt decreed in 1939 that Thanksgiving would be celebrated a week earlier. “Franksgiving,” as it was known, was decried by Thanksgiving traditionalists and political rivals (one even compared FDR to Hitler) and was only adopted by 23 of the 48 states. Congress officially moved Thanksgiving back to the fourth Thursday of November in 1941, where it has remained ever since.