Thanksgiving is a time for friends and family to come together to give thanks for the many blessings in their lives. This is something that is widely known and celebrated. However, what if there was more to know about Thanksgiving.? This got me thinking of some little-known facts about one of the most celebrated holidays…
Fun Facts About Thanksgiving
1. Do you know who Sarah Josepha Hale is? She wrote “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” But this was not all she wrote. She is responsible for Abraham Lincoln finally making Thanksgiving a national holiday! How you ask? Well, she wrote numerous letters, over the span of 17 years, to Congress explaining the many reasons why he needed to recognize Thanksgiving as a national holiday. She was finally able to persuade Mr. Lincoln. On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln finally recognized Thanksgiving as a national holiday…
2. The first Thanksgiving lasted 3 whole days! The harvest gathering in 1621 included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians.
Ceremonial Thanksgiving Turkey Pardoning
3. Often times people say that the ceremonial turkey pardoning was started by Harry Truman. However, this would be inaccurate since he actually had the turkey that the National Turkey Federation sent him as his main course. The first president to bestow a reprieve on the gifted Thanksgiving turkey was John F. Kennedy. The tradition seemed to catch on, and Richard Nixon sent his wily bird to a petting zoo to live out his days. Finally, in 1989, George H. W. Bush shifted this turkey release into a ceremonial pardoning tradition.
4. Did you know that there is actually a turkey hotline? Well, there is… Travel with me for a second back to 1981, when a group of 6 home economists fielded phone calls through the holiday season to answer various cooking questions. Butterball actually answers more than 100,000 turkey questions from November through December. You don’t believe me? Next time you have a turkey crisis, or you just need a little gobble time, call the Butterball Turkey Hotline, 1-800-288-8372 (1-800-BUTTERBALL). They answer every poulterific (yes, we made that up) question you can think of, and probably some you haven’t thought of yet…
Tradition of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
5. Most people recognize the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, even if they have not seen it in person. Today, it is the largest parade, but do you know how it was started? In 1924, the organizers for the parade did not have access to the various sky-scraper-size balloons that we associate with big city parades. So, these organizers got together with the Central Park Zoo officials, and they had a parade with the animals from the zoo. The simple parade line up remained this way for the first 3 years, until the balloon introduction of Felix the Cat came roaring onto the scene. Parades have never been the same since.
6. Have you ever had a frozen dinner? Or gone to your grandparent’s home and found a frozen dinner in the freezer? Who would have thought that those frozen delicacies started because of Thanksgiving? Every year, upwards of 18 million turkeys are not selected to grace a family’s table for Thanksgiving dinner. The brain trust of Swanson got together and decided that they wanted to profit off of the left-over turkeys that were not sold. Therefore, they came up with these packaged meals that could be frozen, saved for later, and heated up when you need something quick to eat. Voila…. TV dinner is created.
Wait, is Big Bird Really a Turkey?
7. How many of us love Sesame Street characters? There is more than meets the eye when one is looking at Big Bird… And that is hard to believe. But, Big Bird’s feathers are TURKEY FEATHERS! What??? They are turkey feathers that have been dyed yellow. I am not sure I will be able to look at Big Bird the same again. 😊
8. Not all things can be done by both males and females. Male turkeys, or toms, make the tell tale “gobble gobble” sound we all know and love when we think about turkeys. Females cannot “gobble” at all. They can only make a clucking noise. Males use their ability to gobble and their sassy strut to attract female turkeys.
9. Where might we be today if Benjamin Franklin had his way? Although the Bald Eagle was selected as the national bird for the US. Benjamin Franklin had stated that he considered the turkey to be a “more respectable bird” and a “bird of courage.” I wonder if this had come to pass, then what would be for Thanksgiving dinner?
10. The US Virgin Islands have expanded on the Thanksgiving celebration. They actually have two separate Thanksgiving holidays. Although they celebrate Thanksgiving Day with the rest of the US, they have already had a previous Thanksgiving celebration on October 19. This is their “Hurricane Thanksgiving Day” to give special thanks for the islands being spared from hurricanes that year. This does mean that if they have had to endure a hurricane, then they would not be celebrating their “Hurricane Thanksgiving Day.”
This wraps up our list of fun facts about Thanksgiving. Hopefully there were one or two new ones you hadn’t heard before. We hope all of you enjoy this time with family and friends. From all of us at Yellowstone Hot Springs, we wish you all a warm and heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving!
We are open Thanksgiving Day for normal hours. Come join us for a relaxing soak before dinner, or an evening soak to watch the stars come out after.