This Thursday, millions of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends with a traditional feast which includes turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. Do you know why we celebrate this official day of thanks?
Only about half of the original Pilgrims, Plymouth Colony settlers, survived a very hard year from fall 1620 to fall 1621 with the other half saved from starvation by the Wampanoag who gave them food and taught them farming and food preparation and storage in their new land as well as ways to survive the bitter cold winter.
With the Pilgrim’s first bountiful harvest in the fall of 1621, they held a day of Thanksgiving with 91 Native Americans. We now celebrate this American tradition as a remembrance of that first Thanksgiving.
Here are some fun Thanksgiving Day facts and statistics to share with your family and friends as you carve this year’s turkey.
- The 1621 Thanksgiving lasted three days and included games. It did not include women or children.
- The first national Thanksgiving was declared by President George Washington in 1789.
- Thanksgiving became a national holiday, to be observed the last Thursday of November, by proclamation under President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
- To allow for a longer holiday shopping season, President Franklin Roosevelt defined Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.
- The word Pilgrim means foreigner or traveler from afar coming from the Latin word “peregrinus.”
- In the U.S. there are 37 places and townships named Plymouth and only one township named Pilgrim.
- Seafood and venison were most likely served at the first Thanksgiving and not turkey.
- 248 million turkeys are expected to be raised in the U.S. in 2011.
- 46 million turkeys are expected to be consumed on Thanksgiving Day at an average weight of 16-17 pounds per turkey.
- 750 million pounds of cranberries, 2.4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes, and 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins are expected to be raised in the U.S. in 2011.
- Drinking alcoholic beverages and overeating are more likely the reasons you might be falling asleep on the couch after a Thanksgiving Day meal than the effects of the Trytophan amount in the turkey.
- Top 5 busiest airports for Thanksgiving travel are: 1. Chicago O’Hare International, 2. Los Angeles International, 3. Logan International, 4. LaGuardia International, and 5. San Francisco International.
- The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was in 1924.
As we have fun with our family and friends on Thanksgiving, enjoying our feast and football, many do take a moment to express what they are thankful for in their lives. Family and friends usually top this list. What else are you grateful for this year? A few Americans answered this “what else” question posted on LinkedIn and Facebook:“ I am thankful that I no longer have to eat my mothers lime Jell-o mold with cabbage. It also had onions and peas in it! And they say the 50's were the good old days...." Barbara Bach, Dallas, TX
“I am most thankful to God for giving me a beautiful granddaughter who was born in September, two months after I lost my job. She has helped me realize what is most important in life - spending time with my family.” Mary Matison, Greater Chicago, IL
“Red wine. Need something to take the edge off family gatherings! I wrote a piece last year for Forbes about a study that found 68% of women expect family drama at Thanksgiving.” Jenna Goudreau, Great New York
“Too many things to name, Family, Friends, My job, my animals, so many thinks. Another year on planet earth!” Liz Peters, Greater Chicago, IL
"I am thankful for the unique and exciting history we are creating as a rapidly transforming world. Very excited for the future it all creates." Joe Elkjer, Scottsdale, AZ
“I am thankful for my little brother, Sean. He's my rock and ends every call with "Love You" even when his friends make fun of him for it.” Kerry McDonough, Greater Chicago, IL
“I am thankful that my parents raised me never to expect someone to give to me the things I want in life.” Grant Epstein, Greater Chicago, IL
"I am the most thankful that the USA has this holiday to even celebrate! I think family gatherings can be funny and also tragic. Many do not have family to stay with and others wish they had less of some family members. (We cannot pick our relatives.) Some people drink too much and say things they should regret later.
But as a country we do have much to be thankful for. Whenever I travel outside the USA, I am glad to be an American with our basic freedoms most of us take for granted. I am thankful we can mostly dissent and gather politically whether we agree or not. In too may countries citizens cannot do that.
I am thankful we have freedom of religion, and for some, they have freedom from religion. I am thankful I do not live in Iran or many other countries where women are second class citizens at best. I am thankful to Linked In and the Internet for making communications much easier and faster and for gathering places like this.
I am thankful I get the opportunity to eat too much when too many in the world are starving.
I am just flat out thankful to be an American and celebrate this great holiday with family and friends!” Jennifer Wise, Spokane, WA
“ The Almighty?” Hitendra Patil, Greater Chicago, IL
I am thankful for all of you, my loyal readers and followers. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read and share my articles. Thank you for the feedback emails and comments on my social media pages. I enjoy reading them.
Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!