It’s almost that time of year where your family gathers around your dining room table, passes food around and enjoys a large Thanksgiving feast. Rather than potentially arguing with a family member about politics, or talking to that family member you’re avoiding, you can talk about Thanksgiving facts that aren’t necessarily well known, or needed.
President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday when he declared that the final Thursday of every November should be recognized as a day of thanksgiving. The holiday was officially adapted as a national one in 1941 when Congress made it an official national holiday.
The turkey almost became the United States’ national bird and Ben Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter saying the eagle has “bad moral character.” Franklin described the turkey as a “much more respectable bird.” Turkey is always a necessity during a Thanksgiving feast and Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in America. Other states like North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia and Indiana join Minnesota as the states that account for almost two-thirds of turkeys raised in the United States in 2011. Americans consume around 46 million turkeys each Thanksgiving.
Necessary side dishes like cranberries come from places like Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. The states led the nation in cranberry growing while sweet potatoes are produced in mass rates in places like North Carolina, California and Mississippi.
No Thanksgiving meal is complete without a slice of pumpkin pie. The world’s largest pumpkin pie was baked in Ohio in 2005, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The pie weighed over 2,000 pounds and measured over 12 feet long. The ingredients needed to make the pie included 900 pounds of pumpkin, 62 gallons of milk, 155 dozens of eggs and 250 pounds of crust.
Thanksgiving goes beyond traditions of consuming endless amounts of calories. One Thanksgiving tradition that has taken place since 1924 is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. However, the parade wasn’t known for Thanksgiving originally. The parade was referred to as the Macy’s Christmas Parade and was carried out by Macy’s employees. Animals from the Central Park Zoo were part of the shenanigans and a children’s book illustrator designed the first hot air balloons used in the parade in 1927.
Other Thanksgiving traditions like NFL games started in 1934 when the Detroit Lions played against the Chicago Bears in 1934. Since that game the Detroit Lions have played almost every Thanksgiving besides in 1939 and 1944. The first Thanksgiving game was broadcasted on television in 1956.
Although it isn’t on Thanksgiving day, Black Friday is also a Thanksgiving tradition for some families. The Black Friday name comes from police in Philadelphia when they used the term to describe chaos that occurred among shoppers and tourists the day after Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Day falls on Nov. 22 this year and hopefully it brings great dishes and times to you and your family.
Reprint from November 22, 2017