The first Thanksgiving feast was held in the autumn of 1621, during three days of prayer and feasting by the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony and their Native American guests, members of the Wampanoag tribe. However, the first national Thanksgiving Day was not celebrated until November 26, 1789, as proclaimed by George Washington.
It is said most people get very sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal because of a sleep-inducing chemical found in turkey meat. Eating a lot of turkey at Thanksgiving is not the only thing that makes people sleepy. Although turkey meat does contain tryptophan--an amino acid which the brain turns into serotonin, a chemical that calms us down and helps us sleep--it is a combination of factors that make us sleepy after the big feast. All the carbohydrates--like potatoes, stuffing, yams, bread, and pie--are also partly to blame, as well as eating to the brim; so much digestion
activity diverts blood from the brain to the digestive system.
The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has become one of the most popular customs of the holiday's celebrations, attracting thousands of visitors to New York City and millions of TV viewers. Santa Claus makes an appearance at the parade's finale to signal the beginning of the Christmas shopping season?
In the mid-19th century, Godey's Lady's Book, under the leadership of editor Sarah Josepha Hale, led a long and committed campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Hale and her magazine succeeded when President Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday in 1863. Thanksgiving had previously been celebrated in New England and gradually spread to other states, but it was not always on the same day.
Godey's Lady's Book has been described as the most popular women's magazine of its time. As its editor--and as the first female editor of a major magazine--Hale influenced the attitudes, fashion, and manners of her Godey's Ladies Book readers. She is also famous for her well-known children's verse Mary Had a Little Lamb, published in 1830.
The Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys traditionally host football (NFL) games on Thanksgiving Day. The Detroit Lions have held their football-on-Thanksgiving tradition since 1934, except for a six-season gap from 1939 to 1944 during World War II. The Dallas Cowboys have hosted Thanksgiving Day games since 1966, missing play only in 1975 and 1977. Many
Americans digest their holiday meal while watching football games on television. High viewership of these games has made football an American Thanksgiving tradition.
The cornucopia, or "horn of plenty," symbolizes the abundance of the feast, and is often depicted overflowing with food and flowers. It originated in Greece. In Greek mythology, it is one of the horns of the goat Amaltheia, which was caused by Zeus to refill itself indefinitely with food and drink.
In the United States, Thanksgiving is an annual holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October, as established by Parliament in 1957. The first Canadian Thanksgiving was held on April 15, 1872, as a thankful celebration for the recovery of the future King Edward VII from a serious illness. Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving with big feasts and parades. The second Monday of October is also Columbus Day in both the US and Canada.
Benjamin Franklin, a prominent figure in American history wanted to declare the wild turkey, not the bald eagle, as the National Bird? In a letter to his daughter from 1784, Franklin stated, "For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character...For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America."
In 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to one week earlier to allow for an extra week of shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many Americans objected to the change in their holiday customs and continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of the month. Roosevelt's political opponents in Congress also opposed the break with tradition and dubbed the early holiday "Franksgiving." In May 1941 Roosevelt admitted that he had made a mistake and signed a bill that established the fourth Thursday of November as the national Thanksgiving holiday, which it has been ever since.
When the 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe joined the 52 colonists for the first Thanksgiving meal in Plymouth in 1621, they brought with them at least five deer. There are only two surviving descriptions of the first Thanksgiving: a letter by one of the colonists, and a passage in a book written by William Bradford, the governor of the colony.
However, neither of these descriptions mentions cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, or chestnut stuffing as being part of the feast.