(Photo: Pilgrim Hall Museum)
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."
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.
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.
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.