Thanksgiving is one of America’s favourite holidays, but there is more to the story than just turkey and shopping. We will be exploring the history and origins of Thanksgiving, the traditions, and some interesting facts about the holiday. So, grab a plate of turkey and get ready to learn some fascinating facts about this American holiday.
1. Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday in November
When Abraham Lincoln was president he proclaimed the last Thursday of November would be the National Thanksgiving Day, however other presidents changed the date. In 1941 Roosevelt made the final change back to being the fourth Thursday of the month.
2. It wasn’t easy to convince Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday and he only did so after 17 years of letters from Sarah Josepha Hale.
Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday on October 3, 1863. Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who wrote “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” convinced Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday after writing letters for 17 years.
3. Thanksgiving celebrates the harvest
Thanksgiving celebrates the harvest, when food is plentiful.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 over a three day harvest festival. It included 50 Pilgrims who were people who had come to America from England and 90 Native Americans from the Wampanoag Tribe.
4. Cities and towns have parades to celebrate the holiday
Parades take place, with the world’s largest one happening in New York City right outside a store called Macy’s.
That’s been going since 1924 and features parade floats, scenes from Broadway plays, large balloons of cartoon characters, and school marching bands!
5. Every year on Thanksgiving the president ‘pardons’ a turkey
Each Thanksgiving, the President “pardons” a hand-selected turkey, sparing the bird from someone’s dinner table and ensuring the rest of its days are spent roaming on a farm, doing whatever it is turkeys love to do!
6. Watching American Football is a big part of Thanksgiving
The tradition of football on Thanksgiving began in 1876 with a game between American universities, Yale and Princeton. American football is different to British football (that they call Soccer) and has a ball that looks more like a rugby than a football.
The first NFL games were played on Thanksgiving in 1920.
7. Each year, about 46 million turkeys are cooked in the US to celebrate thanksgiving
It’s traditional to eat Turkey on thanksgiving as well as mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie
8. The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday
You might have heard of Black Friday because American websites often give discounts on their products.
Black Friday marks the start of the Christmas shopping period for Americans and stores have lots of discounts, a bit like Boxing Day
9. Jingle Bells was supposed to be a Thanksgiving song
“Jingle Bells,” the classic Christmas song written by James Lord Pierpont in 1857, wasn’t meant to be about Christmas. Originally titled “One Horse Open Sleigh,” the song was meant to be sung on Thanksgiving.
10. America isn’t the only country to have a thanksgiving
You might’ve believed Thanksgiving was purely American, but it’s celebrated in Canada too.
Instead of the last Thursday in November, however, it falls on the second Monday of every October.
The first to be nationally declared was held in 1872 to celebrate the medical recovery of the Prince of Wales.
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