Thanksgiving is popularly thought of as commemorating the birth of what has become the United States of America. According to the slightly-fudged history, Pilgrims, who had traveled to America to escape religious persecution, wanted to give thanks to the Native Americans after surviving a brutal winter. Still, though, Thanksgiving is popular throughout the world, and there are many facts about the holiday that you probably aren’t aware of. Here are ten of them:
Even though the Pilgrims were thanking the Native Americans for helping them survive their first winter in America, over half of the Pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower had already died from cold, hunger and other ailments.
Today Americans eat turkey and pumpkin pie, but in the first years of the Thanksgiving celebration, the main course was simply any bird that could be successfully hunted. And as for pumpkin pie, a lack of ovens made that impossible, though there was boiled pumpkin for dessert.
The first American Thanksgiving took place in St. Augustine, Florida, which is also the first American city.
Today we think of Thanksgiving as a very special holiday, but back in the time of the Pilgrims, it was simply one feast day among many others. Indeed, both English and Native American colonies had long been holding regular harvest festivals. Thanksgiving is simply the one that endures today.
For many years after the first Thanksgiving, the holiday was only periodically observed. After fruitful harvests, there usually was a large feast. After bad harvests, fasting was instead how the season was observed.
Today we think of Thanksgiving as a feast day, and, thus, it is mostly seen as a non-religious holiday. The Pilgrims in Plymouth, though, put more emphasis on giving thanks to their God. So Thanksgiving was originally a very religious holiday.
In modern times, Thanksgiving has become a once-annual celebration. In the time of the American Revolutionary War, though, the Continental Congress regularly declared more than one Thanksgiving day in any given year.
America’s National Football League has hosted a game on Thanksgiving Day every year since the inception of the league. Until the mid 1990s, the Thanksgiving Day game was the only game played on day other than Sunday and Monday.
The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. It is the heaviest shopping day of the year in America, and gets its name from the fact that many companies go from the “red” (losing money) to the “black” (turning a profit) because of day-after-Thanksgiving sales.
Perhaps the oddest tradition to arise from Thanksgiving is turkey bowling: a frozen turkey is thrown at a group of plastic soda bottles, with the object being to knock down as many of the bottles as possible.
So, as you can see, Thanksgiving is about more than just sitting down with your family and eating turkey.
It is believed that the first Thanksgiving feast, although it was not called so back then, was held in 1621 by the Plymouth pilgrims. Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated in the same spirit of expressing gratitude, but in very different ways. Did you know–
* In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October?
* Thanksgiving is celebrated not only in US, but in other countries as well? They include Canada, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Liberia, Argentina and Switzerland.
* Every year, a lucky turkey is given the privilege of being ‘pardoned’ by the president? The National Thanksgiving Turkey as it is known, is brought to the White House, where the president officially pardons the turkey, thereby sparing its life! That privileged turkey is then sent to a Virginia Park, named Frying Pan Park!! In addition to the pardoned turkey, a back-up turkey too is selected for this purpose and that turkey is also spared.
* Millions of Americans fly out or drive hundreds of miles to be with their families for Thanksgiving? It is one of the busiest holidays and flight tickets for the Thanksgiving weekend get sold out weeks, even months ahead. If you haven’t been an early bird, you are more likely to pay an exorbitant amount for your tickets.
* The day after Thanksgiving is considered the busiest shopping day of the year. Not only does it mark the beginning of Christmas shopping, but it’s also the day when most stores have irresistible deals on many products ranging from electronics to clothing. People throng in thousands in front of stores from 5 a.m. to be the first to grab the best deals.
Today, Thanksgiving is primarily about families coming together, sharing a meal and expressing their gratitude for everything from the food on the table to the jobs they have.
Many families start the day with a prayer service at their church. Prayers are said at the table before beginning the big Thanksgiving dinner. Some other modern America traditions that have come to be associated with this holiday are Thanksgiving Parades and Thanksgiving football.
Holidays like Thanksgiving serve as reminders of tradition that give members of a family to come together at least once a year. Thanksgiving also gives you the chance to start your own family traditions that are relevant and appropriate for your kids.
What Thanksgiving traditions do you follow and which is your favorite? Will you start your own traditions this year? Why not send out free thanksgiving ecards to your friends and family?
Halloween has come and gone and that means…
Thanksgiving is almost here!
Come November and the holiday season mood sets in. Even though Christmas is two months away and Thanksgiving is four weeks away, it still feels like they’re around the corner. Do you sometimes get the feeling that your third grader knows more about Thanksgiving than you? Relax. You’re not alone.
Refresh your memory with these facts about the origin of Thanksgiving and you could ace that third grade quiz!
· Thanksgiving, as we know it was first celebrated by the Plymouth pilgrims who had arrived on the Mayflower. However, long before the pilgrims arrived, Native American tribes practiced the custom of celebrating harvest with a feast.
· Only about half the pilgrims survived and they expressed their gratitude with a thanksgiving feast after the first harvest was completed that fall.
· The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
· The pilgrims invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast which lasted three days.
· The harvest meal included deer and wild fowl and not pumpkin pie or turkey.
· The pilgrims did not use forks. They used knives, spoons and their fingers.
· In 1623, during a drought, the pilgrims had allocated a day for fasting and prayer, but rains came during the prayers and turned it into a day of thanksgiving.
· The Continental Congress suggested a yearly day of thanksgiving during the American Revolution.
· In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed the last Thursday of November as national thanksgiving day.
· Since 1939, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.
What started as a day of thanks has become a long weekend almost everyone looks forward to for different reasons. The next post will highlight some of the modern day Thanksgiving traditions and the different ways the holiday is celebrated.