Teaching with Stamps: Primary resources for teaching America’s history and heritage.


By @ 11/24/14 in Blog

Gobble Gobble!  As one of America’s most cherished holidays, Thanksgiving harkens back to an important event in our nation’s early history.  Symbolizing abundance and gratitude, it has come to represent a moment for all of us to show gratitude.  In most people’s eyes, it commemorates a peaceful meal between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans – rare harmony between settler and native.  But how much do you really know?  Check out these surprising facts about turkey day – and have something to talk about at the dinner table!

1.)  The colonists and Wampanoag Tribe of Plymouth probably didn’t feast on turkey; they more likely had roast goose (or other water fowl), codfish, and lobster.

2.)  Also absent at the first Thanksgiving: a fork.  Pilgrims and Natives ate with just knives, spoons, and their hands.

3.)  While days of thanksgiving were usually celebrated by religious groups every autumn, the national holiday of Thanksgiving didn’t exist until a presidential decree by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

4.)  In 1934, shortly after the formation of the NFL, the Detroit Lions devised a Thanksgiving Day Game to help boost attendance.  It is now an annual tradition, particularly with both the Lions and the Dallas Cowboys.

5.)   Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924, and has evolved to include gigantic balloons, dances, and floats.

6.)  Thanksgiving has become the unofficial kick-off to holiday shopping season, with “Black Friday” being the biggest shopping day of the year.  In 2011, 37% of Americans – roughly 225 million – shopped last year and spent almost $11.5 billion.

7.)  In 1981, Butterball launched the Butterball Turkey Talk Line to coach lost Americans in the kitchen over the phone.

8.)  Approximately 46 million turkeys are “gobbled” by Americans every Thanksgiving… but only 88% of Americans are reported to actually eat turkeys on Turkey Day.

9.)  The presidential pardoning of a turkey began in 1989 with President Bush, Senior.  Since then, every year, the president has pardoned two turkeys from the table.  This year, Obama pardoned Cobbler and Gobbler.

10.) Allegedly, the TV Dinner arose in 1953 after Swanson needed to dispose of all its turkey meat left over after Thanksgiving.