Facts about Thanksgiving Day
The harvest festival of Thanksgiving - in Canada, the second Monday in October - has wandered around the calendar more than most holidays:
- The first North American celebration was in Canada's eastern
Arctic in 1578, by explorer Martin Frobisher.
- New England's Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving in autumn 1621, 'with turkey, squash, and pumpkin. This festival was brought to
Canada as early as 1750. Abraham Lincoln made it an official
U.S. holiday in 1863.
- From 1819 to 1921, Canada's official Thanksgiving was November 6. In 1931, it reverted to the second or third Monday in October, except for 1935 when it was held on a Thursday. In 1957,
Ottawa formalized the present date.
Thanksgiving Fun Facts
The typical US household devours turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, bread rolls and of course pumpkin or cherry pie for the big Thanksgiving holiday. So here are some fun facts regarding these delights.
The average American consumes over 13 pounds of turkey a year and it would be fairly safe to assume that a few pounds were consumed during the Thanksgiving week. Likewise, the average American consumes about 4.7 pounds of sweet potatoes in a one year time period.
According to the USDA, over 265 million turkeys will be raised in the US this year with about 20% being raised in Minnesota (tops all states in turkey production). US farmers will earn over $2.7 billion from raising turkeys this year. And don't forget the cranberries! The US produces over 650 million pounds of cranberries with over 50% being grown in the great state of Wisconsin. Whether topped with marshmallows or a brown sugar - pecan mix, sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple. Nearly 1.6 billion pounds of sweet potatoes are grown in the US with the majority grown in North Carolina. With 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins and 256 million pounds of tart cherries being grown each year in the US, Mom should have plenty to bake a fantastic Thanksgiving pie.
The US average price was $1.07 per pound for a full size frozen turkey in 2005.
Want to get yourself in the Thanksgiving spirit? Well how about a visit to one of the 3 towns named "Turkey" in the US. So this year maybe you should consider celebrating Turkey Day in Turkey, Texas!
Family Thanksgiving Traditions
Thanksgiving is a time for reflecting on all your blessings from the past year, getting together with your family (even if they are crazy), and of course, eating a big 'ole turkey until you feel stuffed yourself. Speaking of turkeys - according to the National Turkey Federation, over 90% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Many of us have Thanksgiving traditions that revolve around food. Whether your tradition is deep frying a turkey, making green bean casserole with those crunchy fried onions, or rolling out the best sweet potato pie, there is often more to Thanksgiving than a good looking bird with all the fixings.
Many families have adopted other traditions that are passed from one generation to the next. Here are the top 10 Thanksgiving traditions along with some recommended movies, books and games that will surely have your family smiling. If you don't have any Thanksgiving traditions in your family, this is the year to start one!
Top 10 Family Thanksgiving Traditions
- Write Thankful Lists - When guests arrive for Thanksgiving, hand them a piece of Thanksgiving themed paper and have them generate a "What I'm Thankful For This Year List." It might be one thing or it might be a long list depending on the person. Then, before serving the big meal, you go around the table having each person say aloud what he/she is thankful for. You can turn this tradition into a family memory book by hole-punching the paper or placing the paper in sheet protectors along with photos of the family during the Thanksgiving festivities.
- Watch Football - Watching the traditional NFL football games is considered by many to be as much a part of Thanksgiving as a turkey. Each year, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys play Thanksgiving Day and John Madden hands out the famous turkey drumsticks. Add in some beer and snacks and you'll have some happy football enthusiasts at your party. And after dinner, have the gang burn off some calories by playing a family football game in the yard or by going to a local basketball court to shoot some hoops. Better yet, gather the family in the yard or local basketball court.
- Watch Movies - Released in 1973, 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' is the most watched movie on Thanksgiving Day. And why not? This heart-warming film shows the misadventures of Charlie Brown as he tries to host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for all of his pals. As usual, Snoopy and Woodstock step in and end up saving the day by serving toast and jelly beans. There are plenty of other movies perfect for family Thanksgivings. Consider 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' or 'Home for the Holidays'.
- Buy or Decorate the Christmas Tree - If your family puts up a fresh Christmas tree, the day after Thanksgiving is the perfect time to go to tree farm to pick out this year's winner. Just choose the tree and mark it. Ask the farm to deliver it a week or two later to make sure that it won't dry out before Christmas. If your family puts up an artificial tree, the day after Thanksgiving is the perfect time to lug the tree box down from the garage or up from the basement. Set it up and decorate it with all those special ornaments gathered over the years.
- Break The Wishbone - After dinner is eaten, a long held tradition held by many families is making a wish on the wishbone from the turkey. Basically, two family members grab on to each end of the wishbone and pull while making a wish. It is said that whoever gets the larger piece (the one with the head on it) will have his or her wish come true. Of course, as superstition goes, the winner can't share their wish with others or it won't come true!
- Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - For almost 80 years, Macy's has celebrated Thanksgiving and beckoned Christmas with their big parade in New York City. Every Thanksgiving Day, the parade features giant helium balloons with characters like Snoopy, high school and college marching bands from across the U.S., beautiful parade floats and of course, Santa Claus waving to the kids from his magical sleigh.
- Serve a Thanksgiving Meal - Many families find that Thanksgiving is the perfect time to give back to the community and share their blessings with others. They volunteer at a local shelter or at Meals On Wheels to serve and deliver the Thanksgiving food gift of a meal to those less fortunate Americans.
- Make Thanksgiving Crafts - Most American households are filled with children on Thanksgiving Day. A great way to keep them busy and to have fun is to make Thanksgiving crafts such as turkey headbands or wall hangings. You can ask them to create a special thank you gift for the hostess or the cooks for all the yummy food. Perhaps consider a Thanksgiving cookie bouquet filled with iced cookies shaped like turkeys, cornucopias, and more.
- Shop 'Til You Drop - Many women have incorporated this tradition by gathering the family and getting up bright and early the day after Thanksgiving to go shopping. Toting ads from the 'Black Friday' newspaper, they run from store to store trying to get the early bird specials on their Christmas shopping list. This tradition isn't for the faint of heart since the day after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
- Exchange Names for Christmas - What better time to draw and exchange names for Christmas gifts than when all the family is already gathered together for the Thanksgiving festivities.
Even More Thanksgiving Family Traditions
Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of many people. It involves so much more than a day for giving thanks. It's also a day to reunite with family members you haven't seen in a while and to relive favorite family traditions and stories.
Perhaps you're a newlywed and you and your new husband are looking for ideas on how to start your own family traditions. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.
Invite a Neighbor
Lots of families make it a Thanksgiving tradition to invite a friend or neighbor who they know will be alone. This can turn into a lively and interesting gathering as every year there are different faces at the table. It's also a nice way to share a nice home-cooked meal with those who might not have had one otherwise!
Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
Families all over love to volunteer for charity at the Thanksgiving season. They make it a practice to serve the Thanksgiving meal at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Or they hand out turkeys and meals to the needy in their community.
Volunteering your time and energy are wonderful inexpensive holiday gifts. Even if you can't afford to go donate a bunch of food to a shelter, or prepare a meal for homeless people, you can still serve them!
Using your time to serve others who don't have anything is a great way to give back on this special day in which we remember what we are grateful for. Don't you think?
Pie Baking Contest
Do the aunts in your family have secret recipes for pumpkin and apple pie or another gourmet dessert? Why not have a bake-off? The oldest or youngest people in the family can be the judges. Have everyone bring their own handmade pie to the Thanksgiving dinner and hold the contest at dessert time.
Make sure to leave who-made-what-pie anonymous. That's part of the fun!
Carving the Turkey
For many, the tradition of the eldest in the family carving the Thanksgiving bird is a cherished one. Often a special or even personalized knife and fork set that's been handed down over the generations does the honors.
And when it's time for the next generation to learn how to carve, that's a special tradition all its own. Grandfathers, uncles, and dads all love to get involved in keeping this one tradition alive.
In my family, the women cook the meal and the men clean up the kitchen and do the dishes afterwards. This is just one more way to pass on a tradition for years to come!
You Bring the Sides
In some families, whoever is hosting the Thanksgiving dinner will make the turkey and the tradition is for the guests to bring the side dishes.
This not only ensures a lovely array of different family recipes, but it also saves precious oven space for the bird as folks cook their dishes at home.
The Kiddie Table
The children's table has become a family tradition tested by time. It's no longer a demerit to be placed at the children's table if you're the only single guy or girl. That's where all the fun happens. Place small kids gifts like toys and crayons at the kids' table and cover it with butcher paper so they can draw.
The Thanksgiving Tree
Since the day is all about Thanksgiving for our many blessings, one popular tradition is to create a Thanksgiving Tree. This can be composed of a construction paper trunk hung on a wall or fridge and individual leaves made of paper for guests to write on.
Each guest writes what they are most thankful for and sticks it on the tree. Another variation is to bring in live tree branches and make a centerpiece out of them. Guests add their leaves before the meal and everyone can read them during dinner.
For the multitudes of vegetarians that come to the table, hosts are starting a new tradition of offering a Tofu-rkey. This faux turkey is actually crafted in the shape of a turkey and made entirely out of tofu. It's a nice tradition that shows you care about the non-meat-eaters at the table.
The Big Game
For families around the globe, there's no tradition quite like watching football on Thanksgiving Day. After everyone has stuffed themselves with a fine meal, everyone retires in front of the TV with their personalized coffee cups to watch the game.
Usually, factions will split off from those who finish the dishes and put away leftovers to kids who go outside to folks who just want to unbutton their top button and take a snooze.
Dressing the Dog
Probably the most adorable tradition of late is the occurrence of well-dressed dogs at the festivities. Those with a sense of humor have made a tradition out of making or buying a costume for Fido to arrive at the table in. One year it might be full pilgrim garb, the next she might show up as a Native American. What could be more festive?
Kids Thanksgiving Crafts
- Facts about Thanksgiving Day
- Thanksgiving Fun Facts
- Family Thanksgiving Traditions
- Even More Thanksgiving Family Traditions
- Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
- Pie Baking Contest
- Carving the Turkey
- You Bring the Sides
- The Kiddie Table
- The Thanksgiving Tree
- The Tofu-rkey
- The Big Game
- Dressing the Dog
- Kids Thanksgiving Crafts
- Thanksgiving Pilgrim Crafts
- Thanksgiving Ideas - Crafts, Recipes & Decor
- Thanksgiving Side Dish Ideas
- Thanksgiving Themed Oreo Cookies
- Tips for Creating a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Meal