Civil War origins, turkey-less first meal: 7 interesting facts about Thanksgiving

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden serve food to soldiers at Fort Bragg to mark the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday on November 22, 2021, in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. | BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Across the United States, families and friends will be celebrating Thanksgiving, a federal holiday created to thank God for the blessings given in one’s life.

The observance has its share of secular traditions, such as a big feast, the gathering of extended family, football games, and traveling to see loved ones.

The holiday has a complicated history, which goes beyond the traditional imagery of Pilgrims and Indians, and has been observed on dates other than the fourth Thursday of November.

Here are seven interesting facts about Thanksgiving, from noting observances that predate the Plymouth Rock meal to a look at how many people are expected to travel this year.

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