Here are some interesting facts about Thanksgiving:
1. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States.
2. By the fall of 1621 only half of the pilgrims, who had sailed on the Mayflower, survived. The survivors, thankful to be alive, decided to give a thanksgiving feast.
3. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada. So a belated Happy Thanksgiving to our Northern friends.
4. The Plymouth Pilgrims were the first to celebrate the Thanksgiving.
5. The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day in the fall of 1621. They celebrated at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
6. The drink that the Puritans brought with them in the Mayflower was the beer.
7. The Wampanoag Indians were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land.
8. The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in the year 1621 and invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians also to the feast.
9. The first Thanksgiving feast was held in the presence of around ninety Wampanoag Indians and the Wampanoag chief, Massasoit, was also invited there.
10. The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days.
11. President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in the year 1789 and again in 1795.
12. The state of New York officially made Thanksgiving Day an annual custom in 1817.
13. Sarah Josepha Hale, an editor with a magazine, started a Thanksgiving campaign in 1827 and it was result of her efforts that in 1863 Thanksgiving was observed as a day for national thanksgiving and prayer.
14. Abraham Lincoln issued a 'Thanksgiving Proclamation' on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving. Whereas earlier the presidents used to make an annual proclamation to specify the day when Thanksgiving was to be held. This was his proclamation:
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the everwatchful providence of almighty God.15. President Franklin D. Roosevelt restored Thursday before last of November as Thanksgiving Day in the year 1939. He did so to make the Christmas shopping season longer and hus stimulate the economy of the state.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.
PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S THANKSGIVING DAY PROCLAMATION,
OCTOBER 3, 1863.
16. Congress passed an official proclamation in 1941 and declared that now onwards Thanksgiving will be observed as a legal holiday on the fourth Thursday of November every year.
90% of all American households will serve turkey on Thanksgiving. If you':re going to eat the bird, you should know something about them.
Interesting Turkey Facts:
- At one time, the turkey and the bald eagle were each considered as the national symbol of America. Benjamin Franklin was one of those who argued passionately on behalf of the turkey. Franklin felt the turkey, although "vain and silly", was a better choice than the bald eagle, whom he felt was "a coward".
- According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. at Thanksgiving—that's one sixth of all turkeys sold in the U.S. each year. American per capita consumption of turkeys has soared from 8.3 pounds in 1975 to 18.5 pounds in 1997. Ten years later, the number has dropped slightly in 2007 to 17.5 pounds.
- In 2008, more than 250 million turkeys were raised with an average liveweight per bird of 28 pounds with nearly 6 billion pounds of turkey processed. By contrast, in 1970, only 105 million birds were raised with an average liveweight of 17 pounds and 1.5 billion pounds processed. The turkeys produced in 2008 together weighed 7.9 billion pounds and were valued at $4.5 billion.
- In 2002, retail sales of turkey was approximately $3.6 billion. Forecasts for 2009 expect sales to reach $3.8 billion.
- Age is a determining factor in taste. Old, large males are preferable to young toms (males) as tom meat is stringy. The opposite is true for females: old hens are tougher birds.
- A turkey under sixteen weeks of age is called a fryer, while a young roaster is five to seven months old.
- Turkeys are the only breed of poultry native to the Western Hemisphere.
- Turkeys have great hearing, but no external ears. They can also see in color, and have excellent visual acuity and a wide field of vision (about 270 degrees), which makes sneaking up on them difficult. However, turkeys have a poor sense of smell (what's cooking?), but an excellent sense of taste.
- Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys, however, can fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. They can also reach speeds of 25 miles per hour on the ground.
- Turkeys sometimes spend the night in trees.
- Turkeys can have heart attacks: turkeys in fields near the Air Force test areas over which the sound barrier was broken were known to drop dead from the shock of passing jets
- The ballroom dance known as the Turkey Trot was named for the short, jerky steps a turkey makes.
According to the National Turkey Federation, in 1998 Israel consumed 27.8 pounds per capita. The United States is in second place, at 18 pounds per capita, followed by France (14.3 pounds), the United Kingdom (11.5), Canada (9.7), Belgium-Luxembourg (7.5), and the Netherlands (3.9).
On this Thanksgiving, before you sit down to your feast, take a moment to Thank G-d for all the blessings in your life. And take a moment to remember the men and women serving in our Armed Forces, many of which are far from home in harms way.
May G-d bring blessings upon your families this holiday.