10 Thanksgiving Facts You Didn't Know About

  • 1

    The woman responsible for introducing the idea of Thanksgiving as a national holiday was the same woman who wrote 'Mary Had a Little Lamb.'

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    When she wasn't writing nursery rhymes, magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale was writing letters to the White House, pitching her Thanksgiving idea to whoever happened to be president at the time.
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  • 2

    Hale campaigned through five presidencies to get Thanksgiving on the national calendar, until Abraham Lincoln finally declared it a national holiday in 1863.

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  • 3

    She was also responsible for introducing practically every typical Thanksgiving dish onto the menu.

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    She figured that if she spent the past 250 years selling her Thanksgiving idea, she'd better follow through with it and actually tell people what to eat.
  • 4

    In 1939, Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to change the date of Thanksgiving to stimulate the economy.

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    He thought that if Thanksgiving took place on the second-to-last Thursday of November instead of the last, that would extend the Christmas shopping season by a week. Only half of the states ended up going along with the change (with Texas actually taking both days as holidays) until 1941, when Congress ruled that Thanksgiving would officially take place on the fourth Thursday of November, which was sometimes the second-to-last Thursday and sometimes the last. Sweet compromise, guys!
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  • 5

    Turkey was not eaten at the first Thanksgiving dinner. Various types of water fowl were eaten instead.

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    With no fowl gestures either (supposedly).
  • 6

    Pilgrims commonly celebrated Thanksgiving multiple times a year.

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    Before being a national holiday, Thanksgiving was seen as a way to give thanks to God for... well... just plain surviving. Whether it was commemorating another successful harvest, a transport ship successfully arriving from Europe, or living through another diptheria outbreak, the pilgrims had plenty of occasions to celebrate throughout the year.
  • 7

    Only about 50% of sailors on the Mayflower were called "pilgrims." The other 50% were non-puritans simply looking for adventure in the New World, and were referred to as "strangers."

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  • 8

    91% of all Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving.

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  • 9

    That translates to 7 billion pounds of turkey being consumed every Thanksgiving holiday.

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  • 10

    The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys both play a game on Thanksgiving day because they used to be obscure franchises, and their owners wanted to increase their popularity.

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    Nobody in the national audience knew who the Detroit Lions were in 1934, until their owner George A. Richards decided to have them play against last season's league champion Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving Day that year. 32 years later in 1966, the Dallas Cowboys tried the same tactic to increase their national visibility.


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