Little Known Facts about Thanksgiving
Before turkey and prayers, Thanksgiving was about deer and politics.
In 1620, the Mayflower set out from Plymouth, England with some 100 passengers that included people fleeing religious persecution, as well as others seeking prosperity and the chance to build a new life. After more than two months of travel, they ended up near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, eventually settling in another part of the state where they set up a village. Within a year, about half had died.
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Massachusetts Gov. William Bradford helped plan a feast to celebrate the Pilgrims' first successful corn harvest, which was possible only with the help of Native Americans who taught the settlers to cultivate corn and do other things to survive. It is said that part of the feast included deer that the Native Americans brought with them.
President George Washington delivers his inaugural address in the Senate Chamber of Old Federal Hall in New York on April 30, 1789. Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the U.S. government. He called on Americans to give thanks for the triumphant war of independence as well as for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
President Abraham Lincoln established the national observance of Thanksgiving to take place the last Thursday of November -- a step he took, it is said, in part as a result of persistent prodding by writer Sarah Josepha Hale. Hale, who was the author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," kept a decades-long campaign pushing for Thanksgiving to be declared a national holiday.
Oven ready turkeys-in-a bag pass by on a conveyor belt after they are placed in bags at West Central Turkeys Inc., in Pelican Rapids, Minn. Minnesota leads all U.S. states in the number of turkeys raised -- an estimated 46.5 million this year. The Gopher State is followed by North Carolina (30.0 million), Arkansas (30.0 million), Missouri (18.0 million), Virginia (17.5 million) and Indiana (16.0 million). These six states together account for about two-thirds of U.S. turkeys produced in 2011.
When it comes to sweet potatoes, the Dominican Republic was the source of 60.1 percent ($3.2 million) of total imports of the popular Thanksgiving staple ($5.3 million).
Feel a bit stuffed by the end of the day on Thanksgiving? It's not all in your head -- or, more precisely, your belly. Americans consume an average of 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving, and that includes The Meal as well as grazing that takes place at other times throughout the day.
Nationwide, some 42.5 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles over Thanksgiving weekend.
In this land of immigrants, new Americans adopt American customs -- such as the celebration of Thanksgiving -- while adding their own ingredients. The Thanksgiving meal is no different. In many Latino households, the turkey shares the spotlight with pernil, and mashed potatoes lie beside platanitos, and stuffing next to tamales. Other immigrant groups have done the same. The Irish, Germans and Italians, for instance, have all filled their Thanksgiving table with traditional American dishes, as well as holiday meals from their homelands.