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Thanksgiving History, Trivia and Fun Facts

<<- October

Thanksgiving History Highlights

  • In 1863, Abraham Lincoln, declared the fourth Thursday of November to be a National Day of Thanksgiving.
  • The fourth Thursday in November was officially sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday in 1941, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Unlike today's feast consisting of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry, etc - the original Thanksgiving menu probably consisted of the following items: duck, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. The pilgrims weren't really prepared for baking, and didn't have access to butter, etc, so they did not have pies at the first Thanksgiving.
  • The Pilgrims did not celebrate Easter or Christmas, as they believed they were based on Pagan celebrations.
  • The Mayflower, the Pilgrims' ship, is also called the Epigaea repens. A second ship called the Mayflower also made a voyage from London to Plymouth Colony in 1629 carrying thirty-five passengers; the original was scrapped after its trip home.
  • The trip to Plymouth Rock took 66 days, with 105 passengers (2 died on the way), and a crew of an estimated 25-30. William Bradford wrote everyting we know about the trip.
  • More Thanksgiving Facts, Traditions & Trivia

Traditional Thanksgiving Pardon

Every year before the Thanksgiving holiday, the President chooses a turkey or two who will be spared from ending up on your dining room table. In a ceremony that takes place at the White House one official turkey is pardoned as well as the occasional alternate gobbler.

Some say that this tradition started with Harry Truman in 1947*, but it became official in 1989, with President G.W. Bush. Rumor has it, the turkey President Truman 'pardoned' was actually his selected Thanksgiving meal.

Names for the lucky birds are chosen by voters on the White House website.

Here is a list of some previous pardoned turkeys:
1863 - Jack, Tad Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son, kept him as a pet.
1947 - no documentation, the Truman family probably ate it.
1999 - Harry
2000 - Jerry
2001 - Liberty
2002 - Katie (the first pardoned female turkey) and Zack
2003 - Stars and Stripes
2004 - Biscuit and Gravy
2005 - Marshmallow and Yam
2006 - Flyer and Fryer
2007 - May and Flower
2008 - Pumpkin and Pecan
2009 - Courage and Carolina
2010 - Apple and Cider
2011 - Liberty and Peace
2012 - Cobbler and Gobbler
2013 - Popcorn and Caramel
2014 - Cheese and Mac
2015 - Abe and Honest
2016 - Tator and Tot
2017 - Drumstick and Wishbone
2018 - Peas and Carrots
2019 - Bread and Butter

Turkey Trivia

Turkeys are native to North America

Male Turkeys are called Toms, female turkeys are called Hens and baby turkeys are called poults.

Benjamin Franklin argued that the Turkey should be our National Bird.

Thanksgiving Etiquette

  • Dress appropriately and Arrive on time.
  • A centerpiece for the table should never be anything prepared by a taxidermist.
  • Do not bring uninvited guests.
  • Do not allow the dog to eat at the table... no matter how good his manners are.
  • No scented candles!
  • The eldest member(s) should sit first.
  • Never arrive empty-handed.
  • If dining in a restuarant, tip unusually well.
  • Big game on the television? Turn the TV off during the meal. Same with the cell phones.
  • No discussion of politics. Make a game of it - first who does must get drinks or serve to teh rest of the table.
  • Offer to help clean up, and mean it.

Thanksgiving Quotes

I love November and the American tradition of Thanksgiving. But in reality, every day should be Thanksgiving.
- Sharon Jaynes, Does God Feel at Home in Your Heart?

Thanksgiving is the expression of gratitude, an acknowledgement of favors or divine goodness. It is an act of appreciation, often directed to God for all He has done or is doing in our lives.
- Joseph A Iyongo, Thanksgiving: Recipe for Blessed Living

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
- Thornton Wilder

Thanksgiving day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.
- E.P. Powell

Thanksgiving Jokes

A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store but she couldn't find one big enough for her family.
She asked a stock boy, 'Do these turkeys get any bigger?'The stock boy replied, 'No ma'am, they're dead.'

"May I say the prayer before Thanksgiving dinner?"
Tom asked gracefully.

Thanksgiving, for me, was the only holiday that wasn't completely commercialized like Christmas, Halloween, and Easter till Black Friday rolled around.

How many cooks does it take to stuff a turkey?
Only one, but you REALLY have to squeeze to get him in.

Why did the pilgrim's pants fall down?
Because he had his buckle in his hat.

When does Christmas come before Thanksgiving?
In the dictionary.

If April showers bring May flowers what do May flowers bring?
Pilgrims.

Other Thanksgiving Quotes

I'm excited about Thanksgiving because I love unwelcome parenting advice from relatives I see twice a year.

Thanksgiving is great because people tend to speak less when food is lodged in their mouths.

There is a special place in hell for people that play Christmas music before Thanksgiving.

You don't need Thanksgiving to hate your family.

Turkeys make the same sound that Americans do as they consume them every Thanksgiving.

If I was a turkey, I'd be doing everything I could to taste terrible right now.

On Thanksgiving Day, all over America, families sit down to dinner at the same moment... halftime.

Happy Turkey Day, America! Don?t forget to name the turkey and make everyone uncomfortable.

Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.

More Pop Culture History Resources

 
 
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