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Thanksgiving Fun Facts – Let’s Talk Turkey!

Posted Monday, Nov 23, 2009 by Allen B. Ury

Thanksgiving Turkey‘Tis the season for buckled shoes, giant Snoopy balloons and L Tryptophan overload. In honor of the upcoming holiday, here are some Thanksgiving Fun Facts you can share with family over the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce:

* When the fabled Mayflower left England for America, it was actually headed for the mouth of the Hudson River near modern-day New York City, then the northernmost part of the Virginia colony. But the ship got blown off course and eventually ended up off the coast of Cape Cod.

* Before settling in what became Plymouth, the Pilgrims scouted numerous areas in and around Provincetown Harbor, reportedly looting Native American grain storehouses and even desecrating burial mounds along the way.

* At the first “Thanksgiving” feast (1621) was not a religious celebration but a harvest festival. The Pilgrims and Indians reportedly ate venison (deer meat), wild turkey, lobster, clams, mussels, sea bass, bluefish, corn, beans and squash. Sorry, no stuffing, green bean casseroles or cranberry sauce as the Indians did not eat cranberries, but instead used them for decoration and dying fabrics.

* In the 19th century, magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale campaigned to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She was also the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

* George Washington declared the first “Thanksgiving” during his administration, but President Jefferson nixed the idea, calling it, “The most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard.” The first last-Thursday-in-November “Thanksgiving” was declared by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Congress did not declare the day a federal holiday until 1941.

* The first national Thanksgiving Day NFL football broadcast occurred over NBC Radio in 1934. (Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears. Da Bearz won 19-16.) The first Thanksgiving Day football game shown on TV was in 1956.

* The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was staged in 1924. It was called the “Christmas Parade” and was held to help drive Christmas shoppers to the Manhattan-based department store. The first balloon, Felix the Cat, was introduced in 1927, but wasn’t filled with helium until the following year. The parade was suspended during World War II (1942-1944) because strategic materials like rubber and helium were needed for the war effort, but returned in November 1945.

* The National Turkey Federation estimates that 46 million turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving. That’s 20% of all turkey meat consumed in the U.S. annually.

* Although domestic turkeys cannot fly, wild turkeys can fly up to 55 mph over short distances.

* In the retail world, the day after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday” because, as the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season, it’s the day when many stores finally begin to make an annual profit, i.e., go “into the black.”

To all our students, faculty and visitors—have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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