8 Thanksgiving Facts That I Bet You Didn’t Know

Photo Courtesy: Unsplash by Amy Shamblen

In the year 1620, a ship known as the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, and traveled for 66 days to the “New World.” The people aboard the ship, known as the Pilgrims, greatly suffered. With the help of Natives, they were able to use their teachings to start cultivating the land to grow crops such as corn.

The Pilgrims organized a meal of celebration and Thanksgiving was born. Although we know the history of Thanksgiving, here are some facts that you probably don’t know:

Some people hate Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a very controversial holiday. After the feast commenced, European settlers took over. They forced Natives off their land and stole it. This happened over a few centuries, however, Native Americans often view Thanksgiving as a day of mourning. Others believe that Thanksgiving has shaped itself into a day of thanks and the past should be forgotten.

Thanksgiving with spoons and knives.

The Pilgrims didn’t have forks when eating their deer and other dishes. Imagine trying to eat meat with a spoon. Good thing forks were introduced to the “New World” by 1630. (Forks were invented centuries earlier but no Pilgrim thought to bring a fork with them to the “New World.”)

Turkey, the national bird of the United States.

A common myth is that Benjamin Franklin wanted to change the national bird to a turkey. Although Franklin criticized the eagle for too closely resembling a turkey, he never did publicly address the matter. Franklin did have other run-ins with the turkey, such as his 1750 electricity malfunction.

Cranberries serve many purposes.

Native Americans used cranberries to dye fabrics, heal wounds, and yes, to eat.

“Jingle Bells,” the Thanksgiving song.

“Jingle Bells,” originally called “One Horse Open Sleigh,” was renamed in 1859. This James Lord Pierpont song was supposed to be a Thanksgiving song when written in 1857 but it grew more popular as a Christmas song.

TV dinners were born after a Thanksgiving mistake.

In 1953, a company miscalculated its sales, leaving them with 260 tons of frozen turkey. A salesman named Gerry Thomas came up with the idea of using airplane trays to package frozen meals. That way meals could be eaten before the television, and hence, TV dinners were born.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon fails.

In 1927, big balloons were first used in the parade. Since there was no plan in place to dispose of them, they were let go of. But most of them quickly popped and got left on buildings. 

In 1997, balloon regulations were put into effect because some balloons were so large that one ended up deflating on a lamppost. This caused the lamppost to fall on a person leaving them in a coma for a month. Some balloons were ripped by strong winds and one even had to be stabbed in order to get control of it. So after that year, balloons were required to be no more than 70 feet high.

Thanksgiving was celebrated a week early one year.

During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up a week so that people would have time to shop for the holidays. 

Happy Thanksgiving! And to those who don’t celebrate, I still wish you a time of thankfulness.