• ISA

Fun Facts about Thanksgiving

Happy almost Thanksgiving, friends! I hope we all spend the day surrounded by loved ones and those we are grateful to have in our lives. Though there is much controversy around this holiday, we'd like to share 10 facts about this day of gratitude that you might not have been familiar with.


Who had the first Thanksgiving?

Though we all know about the feast shared between the colonists and the Wampanoag tribe in 1621, there was actually another occasion in which another fleet of colonists shared a meal with the natives to give thanks for God's providence. We're talking about the 1565 meal between a Spanish fleet and the Timucuan people of Florida, almost 60 years before the well-known Plymouth meal.


What was served at Plymouth?

We all love the tradition of turkey, and they were indigenous to the area, but surprisingly, the meal consisted of deer and lots of local seafood like bass, lobster, and mussels. For the sides, they did have pumpkin, but sadly, no mashed potatoes.


When was the first national Thanksgiving?

When the US beat the British at the Battle of Saratoga, there was a call to celebrate and give thanks. Then in 1789, George Washington asked for a national day to give thanks on the last Thursday of November to celebrate the end of the Revolutionary War and the ratification of the Constitution.


Who refused to recognize Thanksgiving?

Our Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson. He firmly believed that church and state should be separate, so having a federal holiday where we thank God didn't align with those beliefs.


Who was the first president to pardon a turkey?

Since the 1940s, farmers have been gifting the president at the time their plumpest birds for them to feast on. But John F. Kennedy once said, "We'll let this one grow; it's our Thanksgiving present to him." It wasn't until 1989 that George H. W. Bush officially started to pardon a turkey each year.


Has pumpkin pie always been a part of the holiday?

Pumpkin pie has been a part of the traditional Thanksgiving meal in New England since the 18th century, and the holiday started in the 17th century.


Has Thanksgiving always been on the last Thursday of November?

Since 1789, yes. But did you know that FDR tried to change the date? He wanted to move it one week earlier; those who were already Thanksgiving traditionalists called the holiday "Franksgiving" and even compared him to Hitler!



When did the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade become a part of the tradition?

Two weeks before Thanksgiving Day in 1924, Macy's announced they would have a "Big Christmas Parade" with floats, bands, an animal circus, and all the works. They signed a contract that turned that event into what we now know as Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.



Who declared it a national holiday and why?

Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863. Why? After 17 years of writing him, Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who wrote “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” convinced Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.


When did football become a part of the Thanksgiving tradition?

Only 13 years after Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday, in 1876, we saw a football game paired with this holiday. This was way before there was even an NFL; the game was between Princeton and Yale. After this, Thanksgiving was chosen as the college football championship.



Did you learn something about this holiday? If so, what's your favorite fact? Share with us in the comments.