10 Fun Facts About Thanksgiving

1. A Tradition Is Born

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TV dinners have Thanksgiving to thank. In 1953, someone at Swanson misjudged the number of frozen turkeys it would sell that Thanksgiving — by 26 TONS! Some industrious soul came up with a brilliant plan: Why not slice up the meat and repackage with some trimmings on the side? Thus, the first TV dinner was born!

2. Jingle Bells Was Actually A Thanksgiving Song 

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James Pierpoint wrote the song in 1857 for Thanksgiving. The original title was called ‘One Horse Open Sleigh’ and written for children celebrating Thanksgiving. It was such a big hit that it was sang during Christmas and eventually became known as a Christmas song.

3. Thomas Jefferson Cancelled Thanksgiving

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Starting with George Washington, each president had to declare Thanksgiving a holiday every year. When it was Thomas Jefferson’s turn however, he decided not to make it a holiday. This started in 1801 and lasted through his time as president. He thought the holiday violated separation of church and state.

4. Abraham Lincoln Declared Thanksgiving A Federal Holiday In 1863

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After Jefferson got rid of Thanksgiving, Lincoln brought it back. He even made Thanksgiving a permanent national holiday as president.

5. The Date Of Thanksgiving Was Once Changed To Help The Economy

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date of Thanksgiving in 1931,1940 and 1941. He moved it from the last Thursday in November to the second to last Thursday in order to increase Christmas sales. Needless to say, sales didn’t increase, which led to Congress declaring it to be on the 4th Thursday in November.

6. A Turkey Was Almost The Country’s National Bird

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If Ben Franklin got what he wanted, the turkey would have been the national bird.  He wrote a letter to his daughter stating that an eagle has bad moral character and the turkey was much more respectable! Many people disagreed with Franklin, so we decided to stick with the eagle.

7. Turkeys Are Doomed From Birth

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There are two kinds of turkeys and only one kind is eaten on Thanksgiving. Wild turkeys are free to roam and only have to watch out for hunters. Domestic turkeys are doomed from birth to be a meat for us to eat. The young ones are even called fryer-roasters and will eventually make their way to your Thanksgiving dinner table.

8. Every Year The President Pardons A Turkey

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Harry Truman was the first president to pardon a turkey for thanksgiving in 1947 though it did not become a tradition until George H.W. Bush in 1989. Now, every year since a turkey is pardoned and then flown to Disneyland to live. They even get to be the lead of the Disneyland Thanksgiving Day Parade. (What exactly is a presidential pardon? It’s when the president forgives/relieves someone of their crimes/duties, so in the turkey’s case – They get saved!)

9. Minnesota Is The Country’s Leading Turkey Producer

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Turkey sales for Thanksgiving add up to 3 billion! Who sells the most turkeys? Minnesota takes the prize with profits from turkey sales being about $800 million each year. People from Minnesota really love their turkeys!

10. Canadians Celebrate Thanksgiving Too

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We’re not the only ones who have a feast to celebrate the fall harvest. Canada participates too except it’s always the second Monday in October. This day isn’t set in stone however and it is common for them to celebrate any day of that week.

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