We’ve all learned about the First Thanksgiving. We’ve become almost numb to decorations that include turkeys that are wearing pilgrim clothing. Eventually our enjoyment of Thanksgiving Day can be drowned out by all the white noise from the stories and kitsch. So here area a few random facts about Thanksgiving that we found amusing. Maybe it’ll break up the noise and provide something fun and different to think about in the midst of all the holiday preparations.
Seven Facts About Thanksgiving:
1. A Turkey is Allowed to Live Every Year
Those poor turkeys – they go through so much for the sake of Thanksgiving. They are definitely the unsung hero of the holiday. We try to make it all right by pardoning two turkeys every year. Yes, you heard the right. Every year the president pardons two turkeys and sends them off to a farm where they live out the rest of their days in happiness and peace. Or however happy and peaceful a turkey can be. The first ever turkey-pardoning ceremony took place in 1989 when President George H.W. Bush allowed a turkey to live and sent it to a farm in Mount Vernon. Another funny fact – for a few years, the turkeys were flown to Disneyland immediately after their pardon to serve as grand marshals of the Thanksgiving Day parade. How’s that for a weird tradition?
2. Speaking of Turkey – It was Almost Our National Bird
Now that we’re on the subject of turkey, we think this is a good time to stop and thank the Lord that Benjamin Franklin didn’t get his way so many years ago when he wanted the turkey to be our national bird. In our opinion, and apparently that of the people who were in charge of the decision as well, is that the bald eagle is a much better choice.
3. Happy Deer Day, Folks!
That just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Happy Turkey Day!” Then how about “Surf & Turf Day”? Well, that’s what folks at the first Thanksgiving would have said to the Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts in 1621. Their Thanksgiving meat of choice wasn’t a turkey, it was mostly venison along with some shellfish. According to one pilgrim at the first Thanksgiving, their Native American guests brought five deer to the celebration. Now that is a hostess gift! Or at least a “congratulations on surviving your first year in America” gift. It’s just what you do when strangers move to your country and start a new holiday tradition.
4. One President tried to make Black Friday last a whole week.
One year President Roosevelt thought had a good idea but it just didn’t go over very well. In 1939 he declared that Thanksgiving would no longer be celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November as it had since 1836. Instead, it would take place a week earlier in order to allow more time for shopping and boost pre-Christmas sales. That didn’t fly with people, many of whom celebrated it on the normal day regardless of what the President wanted. Consequently, in 1941 Congress changed the national holiday back to it’s original date.
5. Thomas Jefferson Didn’t Think Thanksgiving Was Cool
Thomas Jefferson was a bit of a downer when it came to celebrating Thanksgiving. In fact, he thought the idea was “the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard.” How’s that for Thanksgiving cheer? For that he’s earned himself the name Grinch of Thanksgiving. Or maybe the Scrooge of Turkey Day. We should do more research though; if he had anything to do with putting down Franklin’s terrible idea of making the Turkey our national bird we won’t hold his anti-Thanksgiving sentiments against him.
6. Three Turkey Days?
The first Thanksgiving was reported to have lasted for three days. Can you imagine how we’d all feel if we continued that tradition? Of course, if the first thanksgiving had been celebrated with the traditional turkey instead of venison, then they likely wouldn’t have made it through three days of eating. All that tryptophan would have put them all asleep halfway through day two.
7. Cranberries: Medicine or Meal?
It is estimated that 21 million pounds of cranberry sauce is consumed every Thanksgiving. This means that 20% of yearly cranberry consumption takes place on Thanksgiving alone. It didn’t used to be that way, however. Native Americans used cranberries for fabric dye and medicine as well as for food. Later on it was discovered that cranberries were a good remedy for scurvy. We just wish all medicine today tasted like the medicine of yore.
Last but not least, Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful
All interesting facts aside, it’s good to remember that Thanksgiving is a good time to stop and be thankful for all that we enjoy in this country. We are free to celebrate and eat turkey and pumpkin pie with loved ones. This quote sums it up well: