10 random facts about Thanksgiving

Nov 20, 2018, 8:53 AM | Updated: Aug 3, 2022, 2:39 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Thanksgiving debunked? The origins of the holiday may not include turkey, has ties to a children’s nursery rhyme – oh, and that tryptophan thing? That’s a myth. Here’s the lowdown on your family gathering.

1. The First Thanksgiving dinner may not have involved turkey.

Historians aren’t actually sure if turkey was on the menu at the First Thanksgiving in 1621. Wild turkey was popular in the region and a common food source for the colony but they also ate other birds like geese, swans and ducks. Men were sent on “fowling” missions and expected to return with meat in preparation of a three-day feeding event.documents thanksgiving

2. The “Mother of Thanksgiving”

The author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb, Sarah J. Hale, is also nicknamed “The Mother of Thanksgiving.” Hale wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward in 1863 asking for the declaration of Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

3. The first Macy’s Parade involved live animals.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was originally called the “Macy’s Christmas Parade” and promoted the start of the holiday shopping season. The first parade was held in 1924 and “included a menagerie of circus mainstay, including monkeys, bears, camels, and elephants, all borrowed from the Central Park Zoo.”

In 1927, the live animals were replaced with inflatable ones.

macy's parade christmas parade

(Credit: Macy’s)

4. Snoopy has been spotted in the Macy’s Parade more than any other character.

In 1968, Snoopy made his debut at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Snoopy made 39 appearances before he was replaced with Charlie Brown in 2016, reports Mental Floss.

snoopy dog parade

(Credit: Macy’s)

5. Benjamin Franklin viewed the turkey as the possible national bird.

Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter stating, “For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our County… For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird.”

In 1775, Franklin made a good case for the Rattlesnake to be an appropriate symbol of “the temper and conduct of America.”

6. “Jingle Bells” started out as a Thanksgiving song.

James Pierpont’s original 1857 song titled “One Horse Open Sleigh” was originally composed for Thanksgiving.

The tune became so popular around Christmas that in 1859 the title was changed to “Jingle Bells.”

7. Studies say turkey’s tryptophan is not why you’re tired after the meal.

Over-eating is actually the real reason you are feeling tired after the annual meal.

Doctors call it “postprandial fatigue,” which means once you’ve had a big meal your body will want to shutdown and drift off to sleep. Many countries have siestas after big meals due to this normal bodily reaction.

8. The first professional Thanksgiving Day football game was in 1920.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame shows six games played on Thanksgiving on November 25, 1920:

    • Akron Pros vs. Canton Bulldogs
    • Elyria Athletics vs. Columbus Panhandles
    • Decatur Staleys vs. Chicago Tigers
    • Dayton Triangles vs. Detroit Heralds
    • Chicago Boosters vs. Hammond Pros
    • All-Tonawanda vs. Rochester Jeffersons

9. Have turkey related questions?

Butterball has had a “Turkey Talk-Line” open for over 35 years during November and December.

Butterball experts have been answering more than 100,000 turkey related questions from thousands of households around the United States and Canada.

10. Black Friday, AKA Brown Friday?

Plumbing companies say the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for their company. After meal preparation and clean up post-Thanksgiving, plumbers stay busy unclogging sinks, disposals and toilets.

According to Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Water Cleaning, Black Friday is “Brown Friday.”

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10 random facts about Thanksgiving