Each year, on the fourth Thursday of November, Americans come together to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was originally a day to give thanks for the blessings of the harvest, and is now associated with feasting, family, friends, and football. During my nine years in the US, I have learned that Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated holidays in America, and officially kicks off the “holiday season”.
Here are five bits of Thanksgiving trivia to share with your family and friends this year:
1. The first Thanksgiving was held in the autumn of 1621 and included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians and lasted three days. Many historians believe that only five women were present at that first Thanksgiving, as many women settlers didn’t survive that difficult first year in the U.S. [source]
2. In a letter to his daughter sent in 1784, Benjamin Franklin suggested that the wild turkey would be a more appropriate national symbol for the newly independent United States than the bald eagle (which had earlier been chosen by the Continental Congress). He argued that the turkey was “a much more respectable Bird,” “a true original Native of America,” and “though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage.” [source]
3. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade started in 1924 by Macy’s employees. The parade once featured live animals such as camels, donkeys, goats, elephants, lions, bears and tigers. Giant helium balloons replaced the menagerie in 1927. [source]
4. Turkey contains the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is a natural sedative, but so do a lot of other foods, including chicken, beef, pork, beans and cheese. Though many people believe turkey’s tryptophan content is what makes many people feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal, it is more likely the combination of fats and carbohydrates most people eat with the turkey, as well as the large amount of food consumed, that makes most people feel like following their meal up with a nap. [source]
5. Other countries that celebrate Thanksgiving include [source]:
- Norfolk Island
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!