Thanksgiving has evolved into the "food and football" holiday for many of us.  Getting together with family and friends over a four day weekend to celebrate and to "Give Thanks" for the things we cherish in our lives.

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Which raises the question...how much of what we know about Thanksgiving is fact instead of fiction or handed down lore?

Here are some facts about the Thanksgiving Holiday that might change what you thought you knew:

The First Thanksgiving

Roughly a year after the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock on the Mayflower, what we recognize as the "First Thanksgiving"was held.  It was not on the fourth Thursday in November, in fact it wasn't even in November, and it wasn't just one meal on one day.

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The First Thanksgiving was held in October of 1621 between the 53 survivors of the Mayflower and 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe.  It lasted three days and it was a celebration that that year's harvest.  The holiday would be celebrated sporadically for the next 240 some years.

Turkey wasn't on the menu

The bird that has become most famously associated as the main course wasn't on the menu for the First Thanksgiving.

Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash
Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash
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Plenty of other fowl was believed to be served as duck and goose were plentiful in the region.  Other accounts also include venison, oysters, lobster, eel, fish, and cranberries.

Presidential Involvement with Thanksgiving

Three of the four President's on Mt. Rushmore had some impact on the celebrating of the holiday in the US.

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George Washington was the first President to "proclaim" a Thanksgiving holiday to be held on February 19, 1795.

John Adams declared celebrations in 1798 and 1799.

Thomas Jefferson said "No Thank You" to Thanksgiving

A campaign to create an official "Thanksgiving Holiday" was undertaken by Sarah Josepha Hale, in the 1840's and after letters were written to and received by Abraham Lincoln, did Thanksgiving earn it's place on the calendar permanently.

Robb Francis
Robb Francis
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On October 3rd, 1863 President Lincoln created the Thanksgiving Holiday with the final Thursday in November the day assigned.

Football on Thanksgiving

The first football game played on Thanksgiving Day occurred just thirteen years after the holiday became officially recognized.

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Getty Images
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It was a college football game between Yale and Princeton and the NFL followed in 1920 with it's first Turkey Day game between the Akron Pros and the Canton Bulldogs.  The Detroit Lions began hosting on the holiday in 1934 with the Dallas Cowboys becoming the second team most associated with the holiday in 1966.

To Gain or Not to Gain.......

Thanksgiving has been all about the food.  It is the one day where we reconcile the amount of food we eat as being "just for one day".  It's the day where buttons are let out, sweatpants are acceptable, and seconds are more than encouraged...but how much do we actually eat on Thanksgiving?

Photo by Samuel Ramos on Unsplash
Photo by Samuel Ramos on Unsplash
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The Calorie Control Council estimated a few years back that Americans consume roughly 3,000 calories during their Thanksgiving meal...others estimates put it closer to 4,500 depending on what you eat and how much.  Proteins are one thing, pies...a completely different creature.

However you decide to enjoy you Thanksgiving do just that...enjoy it, because then it's time for Christmas!

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