If you are an American, you know Thanksgiving as a holiday where families come together to gorge themselves in turkey and wine while watching football and absolutely positively avoiding political discussions. If you aren’t American, Thanksgiving is just another 4th Thursday of November where nothing happens. That’s just sad, isn’t it? But whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, we can all agree that this Brainberries article is definitely worth your time. Here are 10 mind-blowing facts about Turkey Day.
1. 46 Million Turkeys are Eaten on Thanksgiving Day
That’s a lot of turkeys, kids. A whole lot of, um, gobble-gobble birds (an expression that nobody uses!). To put this number in perspective, if America consisted of just one person, that person would end up eating 46 million turkeys in the course of a single meal!
2. Abraham Lincoln Established Thanksgiving as a National Holiday
While George Washington proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving celebration in 1789, it wasn’t until 1863 that Lincoln made things official. The purpose of the holiday was to celebrate the success the Union was having during the ongoing Civil War. It wasn’t until the 1870s following Reconstruction that the entire country celebrated the holiday.
3. The First Thanksgiving Football Game Was Between Rutgers and New Jersey
In 1869, Rutgers College and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) played in what is believed to have been the first Thanksgiving day game. Rutgers won the snoozefest 6-4, and 150 years later this remains the sole highlight of their sorry excuse for a football program.
4. Nobody Knows Where the First Thanksgiving Celebration Took Place
Americans are usually taught in elementary school that in 1621, Pilgrims who had settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts were the first to celebrate Thanksgiving. They ate alongside the Native Americans who helped save them from starvation, and as a big “thank you” were subsequently slaughtered as the settlers expanded their territory. But that’s a sad story for another time. The point here is that there is considerable debate amongst historians about where the first Thanksgiving was originally held. Some say that it actually occurred two years earlier in Virginia. Meanwhile, others claim the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by Spanish explorers in current-day Texas in 1598, while others still trace it back to the Spaniards who landed in Florida in 1565. So who knows and who cares, right?
5. Jingle Bells Was Originally a Thanksgiving Song
If you have ever taught English as a foreign language to kids and ask them to sing a song in English, they will invariably know the words “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!” They’ll even sing it when it isn’t Christmas, and why not? After all, it was originally meant to be sung to celebrate Thanksgiving. Then Christmas came along and people were like, “Hell, let’s just sing that Thanksgiving song again.” Eventually Christmas stole the song from Thanksgiving, which is the reason why I had zero sympathy when the Grinch stole Christmas.
6. Turkey Wasn’t on the Menu During Early Thanksgivings
Most likely the pilgrims would have eaten things like venison, goose, and eel (!), along with oysters, fish, and other things that definitely aren’t associated with Thanksgiving today. In fact, they didn’t even serve pumpkin pie!!! Who were these evil hobgoblins anyway???
7. Tryptophan Isn’t to Blame When You Feel Sleepy on Thanksgiving
After you finish off a few plates of turkey, you’re about ready for a nap, right? Naturally, you are convinced that the tryptophan in the turkey is the reason for this. But come on! First, there is actually more tryptophan in chicken than there is in turkey, and yet nobody konks out after a meal at KFC. The actual culprit is the fact that you ate the turkey with several heaping scoops of mashed potatoes, an entire pumpkin pie and a bottle of wine. Of course your body is going to shut down, son!
8. Bush 41 is the President Who Started the Turkey Pardoning Tradition
Back in 1989 when Republican presidents were far more reasonable, George H.W Bush noticed that the turkey that had accompanied him to his official Thanksgiving proclamation was feeling anxious, so he did something compassionate: he granted the turkey a pardon. Ever since, one convicted turkey per Thanksgiving season who shows enough remorse for the crimes they committed receive a get-out-of-jail card from the president!
9. Macy’s Sent Ragamuffin Day into Obscurity
Remember Ragamuffin Day from your childhood? If so, it means you’re, like, 140 years old! Sorry, but you are not the demographic that we’re looking for at Brainberries. Anyway, from the 1870s through 1920s, Ragamuffin Day was a New York City Thanksgiving tradition in which children would dress up as homeless people and harass adults for candy and such. Sort of like Halloween, but super annoying and sad instead of fun and scary! But once Macy’s began their annual Thanksgiving parade, that became the big attraction of the day and as a result Ragamuffin Day went the way of the dodo bird.
10. Black Friday is Big Business For the Plumbing Industry
Black Friday is a day when Americans shove, punch and trample each other at Wal-Mart so that we can be the first to grab the latest HDTV at bargain basement prices. But retailers aren’t the only ones making money the day after Thanksgiving. Plumbing services see a huge increase in demand. Image all that mashed potato, grease, cooking oil and other gunk that gets poured down the sink. Not to mention all of the additional brown children that get dropped off at the pool. All of this wreaks havoc on the sewer and drain system, which means lots of plumbers to the rescue.