Happy Thanksgiving - A history and a list

on Tuesday, 20 November 2018. Posted in Columns, Editorials, Features

It is hard to believe that we are already at the end of November and that Thanksgiving is upon us. Here are some fun facts about Thanksgiving.

The first Thanksgiving was held in the autumn of 1621 and included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians and lasted three days. Many historians believe that only five women were present at that first Thanksgiving, as many women settlers didn’t survive that difficult first year in the U.S.

Thanksgiving didn’t become a national holiday until over 200 years later! Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who actually wrote the classic song “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” convinced President Lincoln in 1863 to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, after writing letters for 17 years campaigning for this to happen.

No turkey on the menu at the first Thanksgiving: Historians say that no turkey was served at the first Thanksgiving! What was on the menu? Deer or venison, ducks, geese, oysters, lobster, eel and fish. They probably ate pumpkins, but no pumpkin pies. They also didn’t eat mashed potatoes or cranberry relish, but they probably ate cranberries. And no, Turducken (a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken) was nowhere to be found during that first Thanksgiving.

No forks at the first Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving was eaten with spoons and knives — but no forks! That's right, forks weren't even introduced to the Pilgrims until 10 years later and weren’t a popular utensil until the 18th century.

Thanksgiving is the reason for TV dinners! In 1953, Swanson had so much extra turkey (260 tons) that a salesman told them they should package it onto aluminum trays with other sides like sweet potatoes and the first TV dinner was born.

Thanksgiving was almost a fast rather than a feast. The early settlers gave thanks by praying and abstaining from food, which is what they planned on doing to celebrate their first harvest, that is until the Wampanoag Indians joined them and (lucky for us!) turned their fast into a three-day feast.

Presidential pardon of a turkey: Each year, the president of the U.S pardons a turkey and spares it from being eaten for Thanksgiving dinner. The first turkey pardon ceremony started with President Truman in 1947. President Obama pardoned a 45-pound turkey named Courage, who has flown to Disneyland and served as Grand Marshal of the park's Thanksgiving Day parade.

There is a lot to be thankful for all year round, but Thanksgiving puts a special emphasis on the idea of being thankful. I personally am thankful for all the friends that I have made since moving down to South Carolina. I am also incredibly thankful for my Swartz Media coworkers and our publisher Don Swartz. I am thankful also incredibly thankful for the weather down here as my mother just recently experienced the first snowfall of the season. I am thankful for you, our readers, as well with you we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. Regardless of how difficult the year might have been for some people, I think that we can all sit down and think of the things that we are thankful for.

I hope all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day and that it is full of friends, family, and love.

Arts & Culture

14 May 2021

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