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10 Random Things You Might Not Know About Thanksgiving

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November 17, 2014

I’m sure you already have your turkey purchased and your recipes all planned for Thanksgiving next week. But before you take the kitchen by storm, why not learn a few (or 10) random facts about the holiday?!?

1. It wasn’t just the colonists who created this holiday. Both the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans celebrated Thanksgiving ceremonies at the time of harvest.

2. Think your family’s Thanksgiving dinner is nuts? That original celebration lasted for three days and included the 50 Pilgrims that survived the winter, Chief Massasoit (king of the Wampanoag) and 90 of his warriors.

3. Nobody ate cranberries at the feast. Instead, the Native Americans used them as dye for clothing and to decorate pottery.

4. Although the events at Plymouth are generally accepted as the origin of the holiday, because many explorers and settlers were here before the Mayflower, there is some debate as to where the actual first Thanksgiving took place. Texas, Maine, Florida, and Massachusetts all lay some claim to it.

5. For a really long time, people chose to have a Thanksgiving dinner within their own families. It was considered primarily a New England tradition but gradually spread to other states. George Washington declared the first national day of thanks in 1789 followed by other presidents including Adams and Monroe. Jefferson, however, found the idea ridiculous.

6. Sarah Josepha Hale, influential writer, editor, women’s rights advocate, and author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” worked for nearly 40 years to make it an official national holiday. She famously wrote multiple editorial letters in her magazine, as well as a letter to Abraham Lincoln, supporting the celebration as a way to unify a country suffering from war. Lincoln wrote back a confirmation and proclaimed the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving. All of his successors continued yearly proclamations for that day until …

7. In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt moved the date up to the fourth Thursday of November in order to lengthen the holiday shopping season as an attempt to boost the economy. This move did not go over well. Many states maintained their old tradition resulting in two Thanksgivings. The new day was nicknamed “Franksgiving.” This led Congress to get everyone on the same page by declaring it an official national holiday, held on the fourth Thursday of November, in 1941.

8. Black Friday has been around since 1930 but slowly crept into an early start time. Many stores like Costco, Barnes and Noble, and Nordstrom have received positive publicity for waiting until midnight in order to keep the holiday about family. In Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island, laws commonly known as “Blue Laws” make it illegal for businesses to open before midnight.

9. It’s not just the retailers. The day after Thanksgiving is also one of the busiest for … plumbers!

10. Your holiday sound effects might be off. Only male turkeys gobble.

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