On the fourth Thursday in November, families across the U.S. gather to feast on turkey. Below are some facts about this American holiday.
The first Thanksgiving was held in the autumn of 1621 and included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians and lasted three days. Many historians believe that only five women were present at that first Thanksgiving, as many women settlers didn’t survive that difficult first year in the U.S.
Thanksgiving didn’t become a national holiday until over 200 years later! Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who actually wrote the classic song “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” convinced President Lincoln in 1863 to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, after writing letters for 17 years campaigning for this to happen.
No turkey was on the menu at the first Thanksgiving: Historians say that no turkey was served at the first Thanksgiving! What was on the menu? Deer, ducks, geese, oysters, lobster, eel and fish. They probably ate pumpkins, but no pumpkin pies. They also didn’t eat mashed potatoes or cranberry relish, but they probably ate cranberries.
No forks were at the first Thanksgiving! The first Thanksgiving was eaten with spoons and knives — but no forks! That’s right, forks weren’t even introduced to the Pilgrims until 10 years later and weren’t a popular utensil until the 18th century.
Why is Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November? President Abe Lincoln said Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday in November, but in 1939 President Roosevelt moved it up a week hoping it would help the shopping season during the Depression era. It never caught on and it was changed back two years later.
Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird, not the eagle.
Americans eat 46 million turkeys each Thanksgiving.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s first meal in space after walking on the moon was foil bags with roasted turkey.
The heaviest turkey on record, according to the Guinness Book of Records, weighs 39 kilograms (86 pounds).
Californians consume the most turkey in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day!
Female turkeys (called hens) do not gobble. Only male turkeys gobble.
The average turkey for Thanksgiving weighs 6.8 kilograms (15 pounds).