It’s almost time for the annual American gorge-fest known as Thanksgiving. You surely know the story of how the Plymouth pilgrims and Native Americans sat down for a feast.
But how many of you know that these revelers ate lobster, seal and swans at that meal? Or that the first states to adopt the holiday celebrated it on different days?
Here are some fun facts from the History Channel:
· Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb was the first to promote the idea of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, rather than one recognized by random states at different times of the year.
· After Hale solicited five presidents about the cause, Abraham Lincoln finally proclaimed it a national holiday in 1863, even as the Civil War was raging.
· While 90% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, the big bird may not have been featured at the first feast in 1621. Instead, revelers ate deer, seals, seafood, other fowl, and harvested produce, such as pumpkin.
· The first festival lasted three days. (No telling how much Pepto Bismol was needed on day four.)
· Lest you think the white interlopers were the first to think of such an idea, the History Channel notes otherwise: “…Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on their shores.”
· While John F. Kennedy once spared a turkey’s life while at the White House, the tradition of officially “pardoning” a turkey started with George H.W. Bush in 1989. Gobblers everywhere rejoiced.