5 Fun Facts About Thanksgiving You Never Knew

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lobsterIt's almost time to pack up the family truckster and drive a few hours to go see some family members and eat some turkey then take a nap, then eat some pie, then call it a day and drive back home. While you're in the car, instead of singing along to annoying kids tunes and/or yelling couched obscenities at people who've cut you off, why not impress your family with some fun facts about Thanksgiving?

Everyone knows that the pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and yada yada yada Indians, disease, harvest, lessons, feast. But what else do you know? Read up, then take your show on the road.
Nowadays, our Thanksgivings are full of pumpkin pies and mashed potatoes, but it's believed that the original feast in 1621 had a menu of lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup, honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese. Phew! That's a mouthful. And hey, anyone else vote to re-include lobster into our meals?
It's not all fun and games and triptofan on the fourth Thursday in November -- American Indians of New England gather in Plymouth, Massachusettes to commemorate a National Day of Mourning while many of us celebrate. Their objective is to raise awareness about the "democide and continued suffering of the Native American peoples."
Ever wonder why Black Friday is called Black Friday? Nope, not because your nose gets frostbit standing in line at 3 a.m. in freezing temperatures to get 25 percent off at Sport Authority. And no, it has nothing to do with how dark your heart feels after dropping a thousand bucks on a T.V. you didn't need just because it was half off. It's actually called Black Friday because it's hoped that the busy shopping day will bring stores out of the red, and into the black.

Think we're so special for getting two days off from work and school to feast with family and friends? Think again. The native Hawaiians celebrated Makahiki, the world's longest Thanksgiving, that spanned from November to February. During that time, work was forbidden.

And finally, an average adult American consumes about 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, alone. It's been estimated that the Thanksgiving meal itself is around 3,000, then you gotta tack on an extra 1,500 for booze, appetizers, and, of course, snacking. In case you were wondering, in order to burn off about 3,500 calories, a 160-pound person must walk 30 miles. Oof.

Happy Turkey Day!

What's your favorite Thanksgiving fun fact that not everyone knows?

Photo via jan beckendorf/Flickr

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bills... billsfan1104

I was watching on cooking channel about the original feast. That had two actors dress the part and also eat everything that they did that day. They made it a history lesson as well as something fun to watch. I was surprised at the amount of seafood they ate. But I guess it makes sense because they are near the water.

nonmember avatar Millie O

Tryptophan, not "triptofan". Honestly, when is it ok to publish a story, even online, without running it through spellcheck? Otherwise, great article!

Traci Tsakiris

Its called Black Friday because that's what transport workers in Philadelphia called it. It was the day bus drivers dreaded, with more people shopping the streets became gridlocked. Out of the red and into the black on the books idea came much later. Check your facts!

tuffy... tuffymama

I heart Millie!

tuffy... tuffymama

Got this in my email:

William Bradford was the governor of the original Pilgrim colony, founded at Plymouth in 1621. The colony was first organized on a communal basis, as their financiers required. Land was owned in common. The Pilgrims farmed communally, too, following the "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" precept.

tuffy... tuffymama

The results were disastrous. Communism didn't work any better 400 years ago than it does today. By 1623, the colony had suffered serious losses. Starvation was imminent.

Bradford realized that the communal system encouraged and rewarded waste and laziness and inefficiency, and destroyed individual initiative. Desperate, he abolished it. He distributed private plots of land among the surviving Pilgrims, encouraging them to plant early and farm as individuals, not collectively.

tuffy... tuffymama

The results: a bountiful early harvest that saved the colonies. After the harvest, the Pilgrims celebrated with a day of Thanksgiving -- on August 9th.

Unfortunately, William Bradford's diaries -- in which he recorded the failure of the collectivist system and the triumph of private enterprise -- were lost for many years. When Thanksgiving was later made a national holiday, the present November date was chosen. And the lesson the Pilgrims so painfully learned was, alas, not made a part of the holiday.

tuffy... tuffymama

Happily, Bradford's diaries were later rediscovered. They're available today in paperback. They tell the real story of Thanksgiving -- how private property and individual initiative saved the Pilgrims.

nonmember avatar Yeah OK

Millie and Traci ... why don't you get together and write an article since you seem to "know your facts" ...

nonmember avatar Mike

As already noted, the Black Friday myth about going into the red is just that- a myth. Please correct with the far more interesting (factual) story!

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