Friday, November 19, 2010
Thanksgiving is one of the most popular holidays in the United States today. No matter what you are giving thanks for this year, it’s a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends, share stories and relax.
Origins of Thanksgiving
While harvest festivals have been celebrated around the world since time immemorial, the modern holiday we call Thanksgiving is generally considered to date back to 1621. Following a long and brutal winter, the Pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest in the New World with a Thanksgiving feast.
This feast was attended by 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe, including their chief Massasoit. The Native Americans initially went to investigate the sounds of gunfire, which turned out to be the Pilgrims’ celebration. Upon this discovery, Massasoit sent his hunters out and they returned with five deer and numerous fowl to share with the Pilgrims over the course of their three day Thanksgiving celebration. Thus the tradition was born!
Thanksgiving wasn’t considered a national holiday until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln released a proclamation, officially establishing the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving holiday was later moved to the fourth Thursday in November by President Franklin Roosevelt to extend the Christmas shopping season and improve the economy.
Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving; however theirs is on the 2nd Monday in October.
Over 84% of adults in the United States will attend Thanksgiving dinners this year.
Over 94% of those Thanksgiving dinners will include cranberry sauce.
Benjamin Franklin argued that the turkey, and not the bald eagle, should be the national symbol of America. He claimed that the “vain and silly” turkey was a far better choice than the bald eagle, which he thought was a “coward.”
Even though they are generally seen as large and ungainly, turkeys:
• Can fly up to 55 MPH over short distances
• Run up to 25 MPH on the ground
• Have excellent hearing but no ears
• Have a poor sense of smell
• Can see in color
• Have a 270 degree field of vision, making them difficult to sneak up on
• Sometimes sleep in trees
Over 45 million turkeys are prepared and eaten in the United States for Thanksgiving each year.
The five most popular ways to eat the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving includes: soups or stews, sandwiches, casseroles, stir-fries and salads.
Age does matter. Older male turkeys are generally considered to be tastier than young males (stringy) or females (tough).
Young turkeys have a number of unfortunate names including “fryer” when they are less than 16 weeks old, and “roaster” when they are between 5 and 7 months old.
Only male “Tom” turkeys gobble, and they can be heard a mile away; the females only cluck or click.
The “Turkey Trot” dance was named after the short, jerky steps that turkeys make.
The Native Americans called turkeys “firkees,” which some believe to be the origin of the word. However, when turkeys are spooked they make a “turk turk turk” sound, which is where the name likely originates.
Turkeys may “gobble gobble” in English, but in Portuguese they say “Gluglu gluglu.”