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4 Things You Didn't Know About Thanksgiving

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November 19, 2013|10:06 pm

1. Thanksgiving Was Meant to Be a Fast Not a Feast

Originally meant to be a fast, not a feast. The settlers at Plymouth Rock recognized "giving of thanks" in the form of prayer, and refraining from food. But, when the Wampanoag Indians joined the feast they contributed their own harvest traditions. Dancing, games, and feasting from their ancient festival, Nickommoh, which meant to "give away" or "exchange."

Thanksgiving (Photo: Pilgrim Hall Museum)

"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth", by Jennie Brownscombe offers an early 20th century perspective on the 1621 event. Courtesy Pilgrim Hall Museum.

2. The First TV Dinner Was Thanksgiving Leftovers in 1953

In 1953, someone at Swanson overestimated how many turkeys Americans would consume that Thanksgiving. A company salesman named Gerry Thomas ordered aluminum trays, recruited an assembly line of women who began creating mini-feasts of turkey, corn-bread dressing, peas and sweet potatoes. Creating the first-ever TV dinner.

Tvdinner (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Smile Lee)

3. President FDR Tried to Change the Date

In 1939, the president declared that Americans should celebrate the feast one week earlier, hoping to increase retail sales during the Great Depression. Americans did not act kindly towards this new deal. Some took to the streets and other had bad things to say about it. Two years later in 1941, Congress adopted a resolution setting the fourth Thursday of November as the legal holiday.

FDRfiresidechat2 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/James Blanchard)

4. Mary Had a Little Thanksgiving

The woman who wrote, "Mary Had a Little Lamb," Sarah Josepha Hale, played an essential role in making Thanksgiving a national holiday. In 1863, she convinced President Abraham Lincoln to issue a decree recognizing the historic tradition after a 17 year letter writing campaign.

Sarah Hale (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Midnightdreary)


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