What You May Not Know About Thanksgiving

Although Thanksgiving has become a day for family bonding, counting our blessings, and… of course… football, it began as a celebration of gratitude for a bountiful harvest. Way back in grade school, we all learned about that first Thanksgiving when Pilgrims and Native Americans joined together in peace and harmony to share a meal of thanks.

Here are a few interesting facts you may not know about Thanksgiving…

  • The first Thanksgiving lasted longer than one day. A single day was not long enough to celebrate a bountiful harvest so desperately needed. Both Pilgrims and Native Americans busied themselves preparing food for the feast.  Once the celebration started, there was more than enough to keep everyone eating for days. The event also included lots of planned activities, including games and contests.

  • Turkey was probably not the main dish at the first Thanksgiving. Although turkey may have been on the menu, it was probably served alongside meats and seafood. Venison, duck, geese, oysters, lobster, mussels, and fish were also served.

  • Nobody used a fork at the first Thanksgiving table. That’s because there were no forks at the time, only spoons and knives. The fork did not become widely used until the 18th century. The first Thanksgiving took place about a decade before forks were widely used.

  • We would not have TV dinners without Thanksgiving. Swanson, the first company to successfully market the “TV Dinner,”  came up with the idea in the early ‘50s as a way to deal with a surplus of frozen turkey that hadn’t sold in advance of Thanksgiving. The turkeys were sliced and packaged on tin trays with stuffing, vegetables and sweet potatoes.

  • New York was the first state to celebrate Thanksgiving as an annual holiday. New York designated it a holiday in 1817, although many states were quick to follow New York’s lead. It wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln named Thanksgiving a national holiday.

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