The Thanksgiving holiday is probably as familiar to you as your birthday. But for all the years you've celebrated Thanksgiving, how much do you know about its history and origins? Read on for some fun facts about the Thanksgiving holiday.
Thanksgiving Holiday Origins
The date of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. is the fourth Thursday in November.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national holiday of thanksgiving. President Franklin Roosevelt later specified that Thanksgiving should be the fourth Thursday, not the occasional fifth Thursday, to encourage earlier holiday shopping.
The early origins of Thanksgiving can be traced to a three-day feast the Pilgrims held in 1621 to celebrate a bountiful harvest.
Turkey is the centerpiece of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. The U.S. produced about 271 million turkeys in 2007, weighing 7.9 billion pounds and valued at $3.7 billion.
Minnesota is the top turkey-raising state, with 49 million turkey expected in 2008. The next biggest turkey producers are North Carolina, Arkansas, Virginia and Missouri.
Farmers are expected to receive $4.3 billion from turkey sales in 2008. The U.S. imported $9.2 million worth of live turkeys in the first seven months of the year, 99% from Canada.
To garnish all those turkeys, U.S. cranberry growers expect to produce 689 million pounds of the tart red berries in 2008. Wisconsin grows the most, anticipated at 385 million pounds. Massachusetts is next, with 190 million pounds.
As a side dish, many Americans serve sweet potato - I like it with marshmallows on top. North Carolina grew the most sweet potatoes, 667 million pounds in 2007, with California second at 426 million pounds. Altogether, the major states grew 1.8 billion pounds.
For dessert, pumpkin pie creates a healthy demand for the $117 million worth of pumpkins produced in 2007. Illinois grew the most orange gourds, at 542 million pounds.
And for the obligatory second pie, cherry farmers expect to grow 177 million pounds of tart cherries in 2008. Michigan dominates production with 135 million pounds.
Fast Thanksgiving Facts
The typical American consumed 13.3 pounds of turkey in 2006 and 4.6 pounds of sweet potatoes.
A frozen whole turkey cost about $1 per pound in December 2007.
28 different locations in the U.S. are named Plymouth, after the first landing site of the Pilgrims - Plymouth Rock.
Source: the U.S. Census Bureau
For more fun facts about the holidays, check out the About Working Moms calendar of holiday facts.