Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thomas Jefferson said “what?” about Thanksgiving? And a few more fun facts about Thanksgiving Day.

So, let’s get started . . .

1. Abraham Lincoln instituted the very first official Thanksgiving in 1863. This was only after Sarah Hale, the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary had a Little Lamb and editor of the woman’s magazine, Lady Godfrey’s Book, bombarded congress with letters and public outcry to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.

2. George Washington wanted a day of thanks, and while some of congress
Thomas Jefferson
supported the idea, Thomas Jefferson said something to effect that an official Thanksgiving Day was one of the stupidest things he’d ever heard of. Hmmm, I wonder what he’d think about it now?

3. On Thanksgiving Day, American’s eat enough to gain an average of 1.3 pounds. And speaking of the holiday feast, did you know that Ben Franklin wanted to make the turkey our national bird? I think we did well in choosing the bald eagle instead, don’t you?

4. The tradition of pardoning a turkey dates back to President Lincoln. When Abe’s son Thad befriended a turkey slated for the Whitehouse dinner table, his father, the most powerful man in the world…saved the critter from a fated demise. Thus, unwittingly pardoning the first turkey. Oh, and for an added layer of information, the turkey’s name was Jack. J

5. Though the tradition of playing football on Thanksgiving has been historically met with controversy from religious folks who want to keep the day dedicated to
giving thanks, football has had a strong hold in the traditions of the day. Thanksgiving Day Football’s popularity exploded when in 1876 Yale and Princeton played their first game in front of a crowd of nearly 40,000 people. Then, in 1934, the Detroit Lions began their Thanksgiving Day traditional game playing the Chicago Bears, followed by the Dallas Cowboys joining in the holiday tradition in 1966. I grew up in Michigan and my aunt, uncle and cousins never missed a Thanksgiving Day Lion’s game . . . regardless of how they played. (My Michigan people understand)

6. In 1924, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was actually a Christmas Day Parade, and instead of balloons and floats, the event boasted live animals, clowns and cowboys. Created to draw attention to the New York City Macy's store, (AKA) the Macy’s Day Parade paid store employees to dress up in
Felix the Cat
costume and walk with the Central Park Zoo animals six miles from Herald Square to Harlem. The gimmick worked. 250,000 people attended the first parade and the tradition was born. Macy’s kept the same format for three more years. In 1927, Felix the Cat was the first gigantic balloon float . . . and the rest, as they say . . . is history.

7. When and where the actual first Thanksgiving took place is somewhat controversial, but the traditionally celebrated, Pilgrim and Wampanoag attended, Pilgrim Colony located, Thanksgiving feast of 1621, was a three-day feast. Both the Wampanoag and Pilgrims brought food to share. There was a variety of seafood, venison, waterfowl, berries, pumpkins, and wild turkey. Much of the same fair is served on today’s traditional Thanksgiving tables. In fact, it’s estimated that Americans eat 46,000,000 turkeys on Thanksgiving Day alone. Modern Americans have added the cornbread-sausage stuffing (or whatever your geographical area adds to their bread dressing) and gravy but pumpkin and apple pies and corn casserole have a long history of feeding Americans during our Thanksgiving feast.

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I hope you take a moment to reflect on what fills your heart with thanks. As for me, I can’t help but remember my best friend who passed away a few months ago. On the same day she lost her battle with cancer, I won mine. Life is . . . funny. She made me a better person, and I’m so grateful for her part in my life. I’m also filled with gratitude for a new friend I’ve recently made, and I’m excited to see where our future might lead.

Thanks for joining me today here at Heroes, Heroines and History and I wish you all a very blessed and joyous Thanksgiving Day. 

Multi award-winning author, Michele K. Morris’s love for historical fiction began when she first read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House book series. She grew up riding horses and spending her free time in the woods of mid-Michigan. Married to her high school sweetheart, they are living happily-ever-after with their six children, three in-loves, and ten grandchildren in Florida, the sunshine state. Michele loves to hear from readers on Facebook, Twitter, and here through the group blog, Heroes, Heroines, and History at 

Michele is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all the fun trivia! I'm sure they are things I've heard before but promptly forget. Congratulations on winning your battle with cancer, and I know that it will be forever tied in your mind and heart with the loss of your dear friend. You're right, life with all it's ebb and flow is strangely funny. Happy Thanksgiving!