Thanksgiving Day: More fun facts about this holiday
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Here in Nabi Music, we hope you are enjoying a wonderful time with your beloved ones. Most of our students and teachers are from the USA, but for those of us who live somewhere else in the world, it may be interesting to know about this popular celebration. In a previous article, we already explained the historical origins of the date, and how it is celebrated in some other countries. Today, we’ll share with our readers some other fun facts about this beloved American holiday.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
If this is your first Thanksgiving in America, you’ll begin your morning watching a huge annual parade that the department store Macy’s puts up in New York City (unless you are actually in the Big Apple, in which case you can find the best spot to see the Parade!). Marching bands, giant helium balloons, and allegoric chariots tour the streets of NYC and millions of people enjoy the show!
But did you know the first Macy’s Parade was originally called Macy’s Christmas Parade? It was meant to kick off the shopping season (something that goes on happening on Black Friday). Back then, in 1924, the parade included animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo instead of the balloons. By the way, the most popular character is Charles Schultz’s Snoopy, and its first appearance was in 1968.
The US Presidents and Thanksgiving
Although Thanksgiving had been celebrated since 1621 (or even earlier, as some historians claim), it wasn’t until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday. And later, the Presidents took a major role in the celebration: we are referring to the turkey pardoning tradition, of course!
Opposite to the popular belief, Harry S. Truman was not the first president to spare a turkey’s life: when he received the first ceremonial turkey from the National Turkey Federation… he honored them by having it for dinner! Kennedy and Nixon both let their turkeys free, and it wasn’t until 1989 when George H.W. Bush formalized the tradition of pardoning the turkey.
The turkeys whose lives have been pardoned go to live full lives, some of them going to Disneyland or petting zoos. They are guaranteed not to be eaten on that Thanksgiving dinner or in any other. If you are craving roasted turkey as you read this, there’s more on Thanksgiving food ahead!
It’s no Thanksgiving without American Football
Most Americans spend the day between the kitchen and the couch! If you are not busy cooking huge amounts of food and desserts for Thanksgiving dinner, you are probably cheering up for your favorite team. American Football is a quintessential part of the holiday! Besides, it allows you to skip lunch and to be really hungry when it’s time for dinner. And speaking of which…
The food, oh, the food...
Preparing a real Thanksgiving meal may take hours, even days, depending on the dishes you’ll be cooking and how many guests are coming over. A medium-size turkey needs several hours in the oven! Unless you live in a vegetarian home, you’ll probably include this stuffed bird as your main dish. But did you know that there is no certainty of turkey being eaten at the first Thanksgiving? The colonists and the natives more likely opted for other poultry, such as geese, ducks, or swans… along with venison, oysters, lobster, eel, and fish. Nowadays, Americans prepare an annual amount of 46 million turkeys! The bird is so popular that there are four towns in the country named “Turkey”.
Other typical Thanksgiving foods include cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, all washed up with red wine… It sounds like a lot. Indeed, the average American consumes up to 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving! No wonder why so many people feel sleepy after such a huge meal! And let’s not forget about desserts! An estimated 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten on Thanksgiving only. However, it is not the most popular dessert in the USA. According to statistics provided by the American Pie Council, apple pie comes first!
If that surprised you, hold on tight: according to another survey, nearly 7 in 10 Americans only eat typical Thanksgiving food to honor tradition, but dislike the dishes! And almost 80 percent of the Americans would rather have Thanksgiving leftovers than the big Thanksgiving dinner! Of course, with so much food on the table, you are expected to keep on eating them all the following weekend.
After giving thanks, let’s go shopping!
Following Thanksgiving, Black Friday sets the beginning of the Christmas shopping spree! Many people would run to the local stores looking for juicy discounts and last-minute offers. The online equivalent, Cyber Monday, was recently invented for those who hate crowds.
What perhaps you didn’t know is that some people don’t call it “black”, but Brown Friday instead! That’s right; we’re talking about the plumbers, who get busier the day after Thanksgiving than in any other time of the year, thanks to clogged kitchen drains, garbage disposals, and –well- toilets, for obvious reasons…
What about Thanksgiving music?
Maybe you want to pay attention to the game and skip music during the preparation of the meal. But if you want to listen to some Thanksgiving songs instead of turning on the TV, last year we already offered you a great playlist. By the way, did you know “Jingle bells” was originally meant as a Thanksgiving song? At least, that was what his composer, James Pierpoint, intended back in 1857 when he wrote it and titled it “One horse open sleigh”. But that only lasted a few years, because already in 1859 the song was given its new title and turned into a Christmas carol.
And if we mention songs, we shouldn’t forget about “Mary had a little lamb” (that popular, easy tune many children play on the piano or their xylophone). What does it have to do with Thanksgiving, you wonder? Well, her composer is known as the Mother, or Godmother, of Thanksgiving! We are speaking about Sarah Josepha Hale who, after writing letters to the Presidents for seventeen years, in 1863 finally persuaded President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday, as we said above.
Enjoy Thanksgiving Day!