7 Facts About Thanksgiving To Stump Your Family While Traveling This Holiday (2023)

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Thanksgiving. Ah, good ol’ Turkey Day.

A day for giving thanks, loosening belt buckles, and dodging questions from Aunt Linda about when you’re going to settle down.

But did you know that Thanksgiving is more than just a day devoted to pumpkin pie and football? That’s right, Thanksgiving has a history more stuffed than your typical turkey.

So, we’ve cooked up a list of Thanksgiving facts that you probably didn’t know.

Why? Because what’s better than dropping some trivia knowledge bombs on your unsuspecting family during that long holiday road trip in a few weeks?!

Interesting Thanksgiving Facts You Didn’t Know

We’ve spent years bouncing from one family gathering to another for Thanksgiving, and we’ve come to love the holiday, probably more than Uncle Steve loves his deep-fried turkey.

And even we didn’t know any of these facts!

So buckle up, buttercup. It’s time to get your learn on.

1. Sarah Josepha Hale

a thanksgiving spread sits on a table with turkey, pie, dressing, wine goblets, decorations,etc
© alexraths | depositphotos

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to meet Sarah Josepha Hale.

Sound familiar? Well, she’s the genius behind the earworm “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

But this nursery rhyme maestro didn’t just stop at teaching kids about pet management. No, she decided she had to make Thanksgiving a national holiday because, ya know, one can never have too much turkey.

So, she went all out, penning letters to presidents for 17 years.

Can you imagine that? Seventeen years of persistent nagging, probably more annoying than your little brother on a sugar high.

And guess what? It worked. Now, every year we say thanks to Sarah as we tuck into our turkey.

2. Ragamuffin Parades

3 small girls dress for witches and skeletons for halloween
© pressmaster | depositphotos

Get this – back in the roaring ’20s, Turkey Day was the new Halloween.

Totally wild, right?

Packs of kiddos would doll up in outlandish get-ups (aka as beggars or ragamuffins), prance around their ‘hood, knock on doors, and beg for treats.

Yeah, you heard us right; they hustled for candy on Thanksgiving! And these madcap shenanigans were called “Ragamuffin” Parades.

Quite the plot twist to your traditional Thanksgiving tale, huh? Makes you wonder if getting candy corn with your cranberry sauce is that bad of a deal, doesn’t it?

3. Pie Day

a gorgeous pear tarte pie sits on a table surrouded by bowls of the ingredients
© yelenayemchuk | depositphotos

Have you heard of this zany ritual? It’s this thing called “Pie Day.”

Some families across the nation have this quirky tradition – chowing down on pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving.

Yeah, you heard us, breakfast pie! Can you believe it?

Like, “Hold the bacon, pass the pumpkin pie!”

It’s their cheeky way of making those scrumptious leftovers from yesterday’s gobble-fest pull an encore.

And who needs a wake-up call when you’ve got a glorious, flaky-crusted pie with your morning joe?

So next time you think your family is weird, remember, someone somewhere is having pie for breakfast.

Our tip: Double up! Pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving and go ahead and celebrate National Pie Day on December 1st as well. Because who can say no to some good, gooey pie?

4. Live Animals At The First Parade

a turkey float on the streets on new york during the macys day parade
© lozt | depositphotos

Listen up, here’s a juicy little nugget for your next dinner party chatter.

Back in the glory days of 1924, the gang at Macy’s said: “Let’s toss a parade for Thanksgiving. But hold the helium; bring in the fur and feathers.”

That’s right, instead of gargantuan Sponge Bobs floating around, they marched the poor critters from Central Park Zoo down the street.

Imagine Mr. Grizzly sauntering down Broadway, maybe a monkey or two swinging from the lampposts.

Balloons? Who needs ’em when you’ve got a fur-filled jamboree? How’s that for an inaugural parade?

5. Venison Or Turkey

a white tailed deer stands among the forest growth in shenandoah national forest
© traveling in focus

Turkey? Thanksgiving? Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?

Well, hold onto your drumsticks, people, ’cause history says otherwise.

Our forefathers were apparently more into Bambi than Big Bird. Yep, venison, fowl, and a seafood smorgasbord were likely the real stars of that first feast.

Turkey only strutted into the spotlight thanks to good old Charles Dickens.

After that Scrooge chap springs for a massive turkey in “A Christmas Carol,” suddenly everyone’s got bird on the brain for the holidays.

And while eating turkey for Thanksgiving wasn’t unheard of prior to the story, it was certainly popularized because of it.

So if you’re wondering how we ended up with turkey and not Christmas Lobster Thermidor? Blame Dickens!

6. TV Dinners

a frozen turkey meal tv dinner that still has the plastic top covering
© renamarie | depositphotos

Oh, Thanksgiving, that glorious feast of overindulgence.

But did you know it’s also the accidental parent to your beloved TV dinner?

In 1953, Swanson made a slight miscalculation (and by slight, we mean a whopping 260 tons) and overstocked on turkeys.

Left with a mountain of frozen fowls post-Thanksgiving, they did what anyone would do: improvised.

Thus, the first TV dinner was born, a mash-up of turkey and its loyal partners in crime, the trimmings.

A classic tale of “when life gives you turkeys, make TV dinners.” Ingenious, right?

7. Turkey As The American Symbol

a male turkey strutting his stuff in our own backyard int he midwest
© traveling in focus

So, you think Benny Franklin was all about flying kites and bifocals, huh? Boy, are you in for a surprise.

Ol’ Ben was actually a massive fanboy of…wait for it…turkeys! Can you believe it?

He was so infatuated with these feathery fellas that he even “proposed” making them the national emblem.

Yep, he wrote a letter to his darling daughter saying that the turkey was way more ‘Merican than the bald eagle. Fancy that, huh?

It’s a hilarious thought – Thanksgiving Day could’ve been a day of national mourning.

Imagine going to gobble your national icon down. Talk about ruffling feathers!

Note: This one is a slight exaggeration. While Franklin did write his daughter contrasting the virtues of the turkey with the moral shortcomings of the bald eagle, he never truly considered making it the national emblem of the U.S.

To Finish – Interesting Facts About Thanksgiving

We’ve embarked on a weird and wonderful journey into the untold chronicles of Thanksgiving.

From live animals at the first parade to Swanson’s poultry predicament, we sure have ruffled up some tantalizing turkey trivia. Who knew Thanksgiving was a breeding ground for such bizarre tales?

So, as you’re into hour five of that long road trip or waiting on a delayed flight with a crowd of pissed-off passengers, you’re now armed with riveting tales to share.

Except, maybe lay off the turkey emblem story – you don’t want anyone weeping into their pumpkin pie later. Remember, with great knowledge comes great responsibility.

Gobble gobble!

Don’t love your family that much? Want to instead get away for a trip to one of the best national parks to visit in November? We’ve got you covered.

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