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Facts You Should Know About Thanksgiving and its History

As everyone's excited to munch up those mashed potatoes, home-baked pumpkin pies and turkey to be serve in the dinner table this Thanksgiving, didn't it ever crossed your mind to wonder how this holiday started? Though we all think of Thanksgiving as the conventional family gathering and dinner that starts Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there's more to the story.

And that's what we're going to tackle about. Here are five interesting facts about Thanksgiving and its history that you sure will be amazed of... and perhaps, you can share at the table with your family during the Thanksgiving dinner.


  • Fact 1 - Thanksgiving was first celebrated in Massachusetts.

In 1621, a sail ship named "Mayflower" landed in the shores of the Plymouth Colony, which we all now know as the state of Massachusetts. The passengers of the ship were called "Pilgrims" or the "Plymouth Pilgrims", who according to history, were the ones who found the first permanent European settlement in England.

These Plymouth Pilgrims were the first ones to celebrate "Thanksgiving" which was organized by their leader Governor William Bradford. In this Thanksgiving feast, he also invited the Wampanoag Indians, the neighboring locals who taught him and the Pilgrims on how to cultivate the land.

According to history, the first Thanksgiving holiday lasted for three days.


  • Fact 2 - Abraham Lincoln was the American President who proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

On October 3, 1863, American President Abraham Lincoln issued the "Thanksgiving Proclamation" and declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be celebrated annually on the last Thursday of November.

Eight years later, in 1947, the National Turkey Federation, presented a live turkey and two-dressed turkeys to the President. This became a tradition and was done annually on Thanksgiving. The president is supposed to pardon the "live turkey" which means he won't eat it and let it live out its days on the historical farm.


  • Fact 3 - "Mary Had a Little Lamb's" author Sarah Josepha Hale was the one who petitioned for Thanksgiving to be a national holiday.

Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the popular nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb", who was an American magazine editor back then, was the one who petitioned for a national Thanksgiving holiday, stating that, "Thanksgiving, like the Fourth of July, should be considered a national festival and observed by all our people."


  • Fact 4 - Turkey wasn't the main dish served in the first Thanksgiving Dinner but lobsters.

Turkey wasn't the main dish on the night of the first Thanksgiving feast but lobsters. Aside from turkeys, the usual mashed potatoes, corn in the cob, pumpkin pies, milk and cranberries were not served as well. But instead, it was thought that rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese had made up the first Thanksgiving feast.


  • Fact 5 - Benjamin Franklin almost made the turkey as America's national bird.

American President Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States. Apparently though, this was not approved, giving the title to the bald eagle instead.