It’s the fourth Thursday in November, so we’re celebrating one of America’s favorite days of the year, mainly comprised of three activities: spending time with the family, watching football, and eating a hearty meal of turkey. While you’re enjoying your dinner or just loafing around on the couch, share these Thanksgiving Day fun facts with your loved ones. They are sure to keep the conversation going, and you may just teach them a thing or two about the national holiday.
Here are 10 interesting bits to share throughout the day:
1. The first celebration took place in 1621 over a three day harvest festival. It included 50 Pilgrims, 90 Wampanoag Indians, and lasted three days. It is believed by historians that only five women were present.
2. Turkey wasn’t on the menu at the first Thanksgiving. Venison, duck, goose, oysters, lobster, eel, and fish were likely served, alongside pumpkins and cranberries (but not pumpkin pie or cranberry sauce!).
3. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed this day a national holiday on October 3, 1863. Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who wrote “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” convinced Lincoln to make it a national holiday after writing letters for 17 years.
4. There are four towns in the United States named “Turkey.” They can be found in Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina.
5. The average number of calories consumed on Thanksgiving is 4,500.
6. The tradition of football on Thanksgiving began in 1876 with a game between Yale and Princeton. The first NFL games were played on Thanksgiving in 1920.
7. More than 54 million Americans are expected to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday this year. That’s up 4.8% from last year.
8. About 46 million turkeys are cooked for Thanksgiving each year. Thanksgiving without turkey would be like Christmas without a tree, and most American families consider it equally blasphemous. While not super popular the rest of the year, turkey is a huge hit for holidays, perhaps because it really serves a crowd. On Christmas, 22 million families host an encore with yet another turkey.
9. Most Americans like Thanksgiving leftovers more than the actual meal. Fans of the almighty turkey, stuffing, and mashed potato leftover sandwich: You’re in the majority. Almost 8 in 10 Americans agree that the second helpings of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and of course pie beat out the big dinner itself, according to a 2015 poll.
10. “Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving Day song. Before becoming a Christmas anthem, Jingle Bells was an 1857 song titled “One Horse Open Sleigh,” and its composer, James Pierpont, intended it to be a Thanksgiving Day song. But it became so popular around December 25 that in 1859 the title was changed to “Jingle Bells” and the rest is history!