We all know what Thanksgiving is all about. It’s about family getting together an eating so much food that you have no choice but to pass out on the couch while watching football. However, do many of you know much about the history of the holiday? I’ll try to change that today.
The History Channel has a nice site devoted to the holiday, even including some videos that describe the holiday. For those of you who aren’t inclined to watch the videos, here are some facts that you should know.
1- Originally the holiday was on the last Thursday in November. In 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt set the date to the 4th Thursday of the month of November. It wasn’t until two years late that the Senate and House officially set the date as the 4th Thursday of the month.
2- Benjamin Franklin proposed that the turkey, and not the Bald Eagle, should be our national bird.
3- Domesticated turkey’s cannot fly. Honestly, they can barely run. However, wild turkey’s, and I’m not talking about the bourbon, can fly short distances and reach speeds up to 25 mph while running. The fastest humans can’t run that quickly.
4- Turkey does contain tryptophan, an amino acid that causes you to get sleepy. However, it’s not like turkey is the only food with tryptophan in it as chicken, pork, beef and cheese also contain it. The most likely reason people get tired after a Turkey Day meal is not the tryptophan, but the ingestion of large amounts of carbohydrates in all the food being consumed.
5- The first NFL game on Thanksgiving was in 1934 when the Lions played the Bears. The Thursday NFL game has taken place every year since other than 1939-44 when World War II was raging. By the way, the first recorded American football game on Thanksgiving was in 1876 when the American Intercollegiate Football Association had their first championship game.
6- 1621 would appear to be the first year that the celebration took place. It’s unclear whether or not the pilgrims used the term “Thanksgiving” to designate the celebration. 1621 was a doozie of a party as well – it lasted for three days. That first celebration did not include desserts of any kind as sugar was a precious commodity. Heck, turkey’s may not have even been on that first menu.
7- Each year the President of the Unites States pardons a turkey who, instead of being led off to slaughter, are sent to farms where they “retire.” For more on that process see Obama’s New Executive Action: Pardoning Turkeys.
By Ray Flowers