November 23, 2011

T minus {less than} 1 day...

Before you stuff your face tomorrow {I know I will :} feed your brain with some factoids about Turkey Day. 

  • The author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb",  Sarah Josepha Hale campaigned for nearly 20 years to get Thanksgiving to be recognized as a national holiday.  She finally convinced Lincoln, saying that it would unify the country after the Civil War.  October 3, 1863 Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving.  It didn't become official until 1941 while Roosevelt was president.
  • The date of Thanksgiving was once changed to boost the economy.  During the Great Depression, 1939-1941 it was changed to the second to last Thursday in November to extend the Christmas shopping season by one week.  It was only recognized by few states.  Texas however recognized Thanksgiving as both the second to last week and the last week.  It became so messy and confusing that Congress compromised and declared Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November, which is sometimes last and sometimes second to last in 1941 to begin in 1942.
  • So why do we eat turkey on Turkey day?  Again thank Sarah Hale.  She wrote many editorials outlining recipes to be used such as turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. 
  • What did the pilgrims actually eat at the first Thanksgiving?  Such things as deer, fowl, flint corn, cod, bass and other types of fish.
  • Europeans commonly celebrated a days of thanks about the time that pilgrims came to The New World.  The new Americans brought this tradition taking out time to celebrate such as a good harvest crop, any time a drought would end, a safe arrival of a European ship, or a harsh winter was survived.
  • The word "Pilgrims" came about from William Bradford's "Of Plymouth's Plantation" where he mentions "pilgrimes" and comments on their journey to the new world on the Mayflower.  By 1820 at Plymouth's bicentennial the term pilgrim was officially coined to describe this group by Daniel Webster.
  • Only about half of the 120 people on the Mayflower were Pilgrims.  The others, or "Strangers" were just hitching a ride over the New World.  
  • 16th century North American turkeys were introduced to Europe. The guinea fowl which was largely popular in Europe which were imported  from Madagascar via the "Ottoman Empire".  The merchants were nicknamed "turkey merchants" which then gave the guinea fowl the nickname "turkey fowl".  The guinea fowl was thought to been related to the North American turkey so thus shortening "turkey fowl" to just TuRkEy.
  • The term "Turkey Shoot" literally comes from shooting turkeys. In the late 19th century competitions of marksmanship were held where the turkeys were tied to a log with only the head exposed and, well you get the jist...
  • Everything we know about the "first" Thanksgiving comes from two passages.  One from Edward Winslow writing to a friend in England and the other, an account from William Bradford some 20 years after the fact.


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