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Calendar >  Thanksgiving Facts & Trivia For Your Day of Celebration & Impress & Stump Your Guests

Thanksgiving Facts & Trivia For Your Day of Celebration & Impress & Stump Your Guests

By   /  November 20, 2023  /  No Comments



Thanksgiving will soon be here whether we are ready for it or not. Here are some fun facts and trivia about this day you can share with whomever you celebrate this day with. Facts like 55.5 million people are expected to travel this year for Thanksgiving, 4.6 million in Southern California alone, making it the third highest number ever. These are fun bits of information to share as you gather around the table, and you might even want to make a game out of the information. It’s always good to understand the reasons we celebrate various holidays. Print this out and share. It’s a little long but contains some fascinating and interesting facts and trivia about Thanksgiving. Have a Happy and Joyous Thanksgiving.

  • We traditionally say the first Thanksgiving was in 1621, sometime between September and November, in Plymouth Rock, Mass.
  • Governor William Bradford declared a 3-day celebration at that time.
  • It is thought that 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Wampanoag Indians shared a meal which might have included eel, mussels, fish, goose, swan, seal, duck, deer, and some vegetables.
  • There was so much food brought they celebrated for 3 days.
  • There is a possibility wild turkey was available for the meal, but some feel it was not initially served.
  • There exists some speculation that the Pilgrims and tribes other than the Wampanoag did not have a good relationship and there was some conflict with these tribes.
  • At Plymouth Rock today, interested guests can sign up to participate in a traditional Thanksgiving Day celebration with some of the original foods thought to have been served prepared for the meal.
  • Some claim the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1598, by Spanish explorer Juan de Onate, after a rigorous expedition through Mexico to what is now Texas.
  • President George Washington, in 1789, declared a National celebration of Thanksgiving.
  • On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln, encouraged by Sarah Joseph Hale who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, proclaimed Thanksgiving as an official holiday and specified the date to be the last Thursday in November.
  • Abraham Lincoln also unofficially spared a turkey, named Jack, from being butchered.
  • Since 1947, the National Turkey Foundation has gifted a live turkey and two butchered turkeys to the White House.
  • J.F.K. made the first pardon of a turkey on Thanksgiving in 1963.
  • In 1989, President George H.W. Bush began the first official Presidential Pardon of a turkey on Thanksgiving Day, pardoning Stars and Stripes.
  • President Trump pardoned two turkeys on Thanksgiving in 2018, named Peas and Carrots.
  • President Biden pardoned 2 turkeys in 2022 named Chocolate and Chip.
  • President Biden’s turkey pardon this year went to Liberty and Bell for 2023.
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been going on since 1924.
  • In 1927, the first floats appeared with large balloons.
  • The first balloon was Felix the Cat.
  • A Mickey Mouse balloon would appear in 1934.
  • The first professional football game held on Thanksgiving Day was in 1934 between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears, won by Chicago.
  • Detroit has played the most games on Thanksgiving.
  • In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys began playing on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Normally, on television, there will be professional football, professional basketball, and college football.
  • Americans will eat more food on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year.
  • Some families make pumpkin soup instead of salad with the traditional meal.
  • Waldorf salad first appeared at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1896 in NYC.
  • Over 46 million turkeys will be sold for Thanksgiving.
  • One new twist for Thanksgiving was the introduction of the Turducken, a duck stuffed inside a turkey. Another addition for some is the frying of the turkey in peanut oil.
  • Pulling the wishbone from the turkey is a popular moment for Thanksgiving. The wishbone is called the furcular and the person getting the bigger piece is said to get their secret wish granted. It must be completely dry before you pull it apart. The tradition goes back to the Roman harvest festivals.
  • Swanson Turkey Dinners were invented in 1953 due to an overabundance of turkey purchased by Swanson and the invention of an aluminum tray to put the TV dinner in.
  • By 1954, Swanson would sell over ten million turkey TV dinners at .98 cents a dinner.
  • Becoming sleepy from eating turkey due to tryptophan is a myth. Turkeys have less tryptophan than chicken.
  • People become sleepy after eating due to over-eating, discomfort from overeating and the stress of Thanksgiving Day.
  • 88% of Americans will have turkey on Thanksgiving, the other 12% enjoy something else.
  • Only male turkeys’ gobble.
  • The heaviest turkey raised on record was ninety-eight pounds.
  • The average turkey weight is fifteen pounds.
  • The University of Wisconsin sponsors a Frozen Turkey Bowling contest.
  • Butterball Turkey Talk hot line will receive 100,000 calls on Thanksgiving with turkey preparation questions.
  • 67 million cans of jellied cranberry will be sold this Thanksgiving.
  • San Francisco offers Thanksgiving meals featuring Dungeness Crab.
  • Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be the National Bird, not the eagle.
  • Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie recipes, associated with Thanksgiving, began to appear in magazines in the early 1900’s.
  • David Plotz, CEO of Atlas Obscura, makes nineteen pies for Thanksgiving, each one a different flavor. Apple Cranberry has become popular.
  • Pumpkin chunking (tossing) is a popular event in the state of Delaware.
  • The largest pumpkin pie on record was twelve feet in diameter.
  • 50 million pumpkin pies will be eaten at Thanksgiving.
  • In a survey Americans choose Apple Pie as their favorite pie.
  • The most expensive Thanksgiving dinner was served at Old Homestead Steakhouse in Manhattan in 2019 for 12 people. The cost was $181,000. Gold flakes covered the 2 20 lb. turkeys, the gravy was infused with a $3,650 bottle of Louis XII cognac, and a seafood stuffing included Alaskan King Crab and lobster.
  • Many families have a Circle of Love before the meal to remember those who have passed.
  • Watching the “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special” or the “Great Pumpkin Special” has become a family tradition for many, considered the best of the Thanksgiving movies.
  • Many European farming communities celebrate Lammas Day, Festival of the Wheat, and featuring making bread from the first wheat of the new harvest.
  • In Ghana they celebrate the Yam Blessing, Homowo, featuring a parade of the large yams, dressing the yams up before cooking the yams.
  • The Santa Barbara Zoo, like many zoos, gives some of the animals’ pumpkins a special treat for the day.
  • Lions, Tigers & Bears, in Alpine, provide pumpkins for their animals at this time of year.
  • A Turkey Trot race is a popular event for many cities where people dress in Thanksgiving costumes, the Oceanside Turkey Trot having over 7,000 participants.
  • At the turn of the 20th century, in England, a day called Ragamuffin Day was held where children dressed in tattered clothing and went around asking “Anything for Thanksgiving?”
  • Before paved roads, railways and transportation of goods by trucks in England, British farmers would walk their turkeys from Norfolk farms to London weeks before Christmas in time to be sold. To protect their feet, they would put tiny boots made of leather or sacking on the turkey’s feet.
  • In 2011, Wild Turkey Whiskey began sponsoring a turkey eating contest, first won by Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas.
  • Broomfield, Colorado, holds an annual pumpkin eating contest.
  • Chuseok, South Korea, holds a harvest festival where people tidy-up the graves of ancestors and they also hold an arm-wrestling contest where the winners win a sack of rice.
  • Thanksgiving is celebrated in Australia on Norfolk Island.
  • Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year.
  • San Diego is the third most visited city in the U.S. on Thanksgiving.
  • Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the busiest day of the year for plumbers.
  • Black Friday has become one of the busiest shopping days of the year where people look for the best deals they can find.
  • Some stores, like Walmart, get a jump on Black Friday and have the event earlier.
  • Saturday is known as Small Business Saturday and Monday is called Cyber Monday for online shopping.
  • There are four places in the U.S. named Turkey – Turkey Creek, LA., Turkey, Texas, Turkey, N.C., Turkey Creek, AZ.
  • Some phobias related to Thanksgiving – Melegrisphobia – fear of turkeys (live ones) and Gratiarophobia – fear of Thanksgiving (mostly related to being around a large number of people, eating in public, etc.)

Well, this should keep you busy and give you something to think about on Thanksgiving. To every one of you, have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving and do not forget to wear your stretchy pants for the Thanksgiving meal. Check out the article I wrote on the Thanksgiving meal and what to do with all the turkey leftovers.


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  • Published: 3 months ago on November 20, 2023
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  • Last Modified: November 20, 2023 @ 10:14 pm
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