Thanksgiving: the holiday so many people forget or put on the back burner because Christmas decorations hit stores before Halloween has even ended. Thanksgiving is almost the red-headed stepchild of the end-of-year holidays; people remember it about a week beforehand, then quickly forget it when the deluge of Black Friday ads bombard consumers around the country. But Thanksgiving isn’t the holiday that should only be remembered for the amount of guilt and shame experienced after stuffing one’s face full of delicious turkey and trimmings. With its historical significance as number one, Thanksgiving should also be remembered for these weird Thanksgiving facts:

1. Thanksgiving didn’t originate in the US

Thanksgiving, or a day of thanks, has been practiced throughout the world for hundreds of years. England and Canada have practiced the tradition since the 1500s, and other nations around the globe have their own day or days of thanks celebrations.

2. The first Thanksgiving didn’t include forks

The pilgrims did not use forks at the first US Thanksgiving because the fork did not come over from England with them. They used spoons, knives, and their fingers; the fork was introduced 10 years later.

2. Lincoln made it official in 1863

Thanksgiving wasn’t an official holiday until 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday. But who can we thank for Thanksgiving becoming a national holiday? Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” who petitioned five sitting presidents over the course of 17 years for Thanksgiving to be recognized as a national holiday.

3. The President pardons the turkey

No one really knows when the actual tradition of the turkey pardon came into being, with some reports of Lincoln pardoning a Christmas turkey as the request of his son, Tad. President Kennedy, in 1963, sent the turkey back to the farm, and President Nixon sent the turkey to a petting farm near Washington D.C. It wasn’t until 1989 that the pardon became an actual thing, when President George H. W. Bush pardoned the Thanksgiving bird.

4. Roosevelt pissed off the Republicans

In 1939, as an effort to lengthen the Christmas shopping season, President Roosevelt announced thank Thanksgiving would take place on the second-to-last Thursday of November (Nov. 23 in 1939) to give retailers a chance to make money that year. This angered and upset Republicans in the federal government, and Atlantic City mayor Thomas D. Taggart, Jr. deemed it “Franksgiving” after Franklin and Thanksgiving. It took a joint resolution of Congress in 1941 to designate the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.

5. Minnesota produces the most turkeys

Minnesota tops the list of the highest producer of turkeys in the US. The state produces around 49 million turkeys each year, which is a shit-ton of turkey.

6. Some people choose a turducken

The ever-elusive turducken: a chicken that is stuffed into a duck, and then the duck is stuffed into a turkey. These things are expensive, and you could potentially pair it with a Pumpecapple Piecake: three pies baked into three different cakes, and then stacked into layers. The thing can weigh up to 23 pounds.

7. No turkey was consumed at the first Thanksgiving

Despite our fascination with turkey, no turkey was actually consumed at the first Thanksgiving. Considering the time and place, it’s more likely they ate wildfowl, corn, venison, seafood (lobster, eels, shellfish, clams and mussels), nuts, and berries. There was likely pumpkin, but not our beloved pumpkin pie.


Do you like Thanksgiving? What’s your favorite part of the holiday? Is it more about thanks or the food?




Brittany Valli
Brittany Valli
Crafting stories from a young age, Brittany was destined to be a writer (well, she thinks so). When she's not working on various novels, short stories or screenplays, she can be found exploring Oregon's many landscapes with her husband, tasting some of the best wine, beer and food Oregon has to offer, relaxin' in a hammock, walking her dogs, or laughing at jokes only she thinks are funny. You can find more about Brittany here: (it's a work in progress)