Cool Facts about Thanksgiving
It’s a beautiful fall day here at The Storage Inn in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, and Thanksgiving is this week! Ahhh, Thanksgiving – a day for family visits, football, and overeating! I conducted a random poll of our self storage customers regarding Thanksgiving and found that while everyone seems to like the food, mostly the men like football, and everyone seems to have mixed emotions about the family visits. As one of our long time storage unit renters, Jim put it, “I love to see my relatives for Thanksgiving, then I love to see them leave!”
As a service to our readers, the staff here at The Storage Inn has rounded up a few very cool facts about Thanksgiving, some of which might come in handy during those awkward silences at the family dinner table.
Thomas Jefferson Nixes Thanksgiving!
George Washington was the first to declare Thanksgiving a holiday, but it was on a year-to-year basis, so presidents had to re-declare it every year. Jefferson refused to declare it a holiday during his presidency because he fervently believed in the separation of church and state and thought that the day of “prayer” violated the First Amendment.
It wasn’t until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a federal holiday, that it was officially scheduled to fall on the fourth Thursday of every November.
It’s a zoo out there!
The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York took place in 1914, when Macy’s employees dressed in vibrant costumes and marched to the flagship store on 34th Street. The parade used floats instead of balloons, and it featured monkeys, bears, camels, and elephants, all borrowed from the Central Park Zoo.
The parade was also originally called the Macy’s Christmas Parade but was renamed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1927. Macy’s originally hoped their “Christmas parade” would get their shoppers ready for big holiday shopping sprees.
Three small towns in America are named after the nation’s favorite bird. The towns are Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; and Turkey Creek, Louisiana. There are also two townships in Pennsylvania called Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot.
“Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving song
James Pierpoint composed the song in 1857 for children celebrating Thanksgiving. The title was “One Horse Open Sleigh,” and it was such a hit that it was sung again at Christmas.
The song quickly became associated with the Christmas holiday season, and the title was officially changed in 1859, two years later.
Ben Franklin – Turkey Lover
Benjamin Franklin thought Eagles were “a bird of bad moral character.”
Franklin thought the Turkey was a “much more respectable bird.”
The Detroit Lions always play on Thanksgiving
The first NFL football game that took place on Thanksgiving Day was in 1934, when the Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears. The Lions have played on Thanksgiving ever since, except when the team was called away to serve during World War II. The Dallas Cowboys also always play on Thanksgiving. Their first Thanksgiving Day game was held in 1966, and the Cowboys have only missed two games since then.
The night before Thanksgiving is Party Time!
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the best day for bar sales in America. It makes sense, since nearly all Americans have Thanksgiving off, and dealing with family members can be very stressful. (But at least stuffing your face with fatty Thanksgiving foods is a perfect hangover cure.)
Thanksgiving by “Hungry Man”
In 1953 Swanson Foods overestimated the demand for turkey by over 260 tons. The owners of the company had no idea what to do with all the leftovers, so they ordered 5,000 aluminum trays and loaded them with the turkey leftovers to create the first TV dinner.
In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt changed the date of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the second-to-last in an attempt to lift the economy during the Great Depression, by giving people more time to shop for Christmas. It caused such a public outcry that people began referring to it as “Franksgiving.” After two years, Congress ditched the new policy and set the fourth Thursday of November as the legal holiday.
Minnesota – The Turkey State!
Minnesota produces more turkeys than any other state in America. The state produced about 44.5 million birds last year, North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, and Missouri are also top producers.
A Turkey Saved….
The White House has a tradition of pardoning one lucky turkey each year. The annual tradition began in 1947 with President Harry Truman although some think that it actually started in the 1860’s with Abraham Lincoln, after his son Tad begged him to spare his pet turkey’s life.
Despite these two theories of the origins of the pardon, George H. W. Bush was the first president to officially grant a turkey a presidential pardon, according to The New York Times.
Okay – now that you have some cool Thanksgiving facts, courtesy of The Storage Inn, you are ready to face your relatives on Thanksgiving! Feel free to pepper these unique facts throughout the dinner conversation, and give yourself a presidential pardon allowing you to have a second slice of pumpkin pie – Happy Thanksgiving everyone!