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Thanksgiving facts and trivia that will stump your kids

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

Teach kids what they really don't know about Thanksgiving

My kids love having the week off for Thanksgiving, but what they really know about the holiday starts and ends with a turkey feast. Before I let another fall holiday pass with my kids blissfully unaware, I'm going to school them about these Thanksgiving facts and trivia that will stump your kids.

What is Thanksgiving?

Although Thanksgiving was historically developed in religious and cultural traditions, many people celebrate Thanksgiving to give thanks for the harvest and the bounty of the past year without any church-based customs.

When is Thanksgiving Day?

In the U.S., Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Originally, persuaded by Sarah Josepha Hale, Abraham Lincoln issued the Thanksgiving proclamation in October 1863 declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday of every November. In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt marked Nov. 23 as Thanksgiving day. However, in 1941, Congress passed a law marking the fourth Thursday of November every year as Thanksgiving Day.

Why was the first Thanksgiving created?

Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to reach North America on the ship named the Mayflower. Upon arriving in North America in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Wampanoag Indians taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land. Governor William Bradford organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621 and invited the Wampanoag Indians to celebrate the harvest. The celebration lasted three days.

What kinds of food did they eat at the first Thanksgiving?

The traditional foods that we eat today aren't the same as are thought to have been gobbled up on the first Thanksgiving; there wasn't even any turkey on the Thanksgiving table. Local foods like lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, onions, dried fruits, cabbage, eggs and more were likely to have made up the historic day's fare.

Does the president of the U.S. really pardon a turkey?

Yes. Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has annually presented two cooked turkeys and a live turkey to the President. The President then "pardons" the live turkey and allows it to live the rest of its life on a historic farm.

Does eating turkey make you sleepy?

Although tryptophan does make you tired, and turkey contains tryptophan, it's not likely enough to make you doze off at the Thanksgiving table. It's likely that overeating is the cause of your Thanksgiving Day fatigue.

How many turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving?

The National Turkey Federation reports that more than 46 million turkeys are likely to fly off the shelves in the name of Thanksgiving festivities. Another 22 million turkeys are estimated to be consumed on Christmas.

How did the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade become a Thanksgiving tradition?

In 1924, 400 Macy's employees took to the streets to march through New York City to celebrate the Christmas season. The festivities were rooted in many European immigrants' homeland traditions. But big balloons weren't always part of the parade. Originally, live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo accompanied marchers.

Read more about Thanksgiving

Best Thanksgiving books for kids
Thanksgiving lap book tutorial
Thanksgiving family tree centerpiece

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