In September 1620, the Mayflower left Plymouth, England for a trip across the Atlantic with 102 passengers.
After a 66 day-journey, the Mayflower dropped anchor in Cape Cod.
In 1621, the first Thanksgiving dinner took place in Plymouth Colony, now Massachusetts, celebrating a successful first harvest and union of Native Americans and English.
During the Civil War in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November as the day of Thanksgiving.
In 1941, Congress made Thanksgiving an official national holiday.
The U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative Thanksgiving stamp in 2001, designed by artist Margaret Cusack.
The stamp features fruits and vegetables in folk-art needlework with a phrase “We Give Thanks.”
Thanksgiving Fun Facts
•In 2009, an estimated 38.4 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more over Thanksgiving, said the American Automobile Association (AAA).
•Due to the bad economy, Thanksgiving travel dropped 25.2 percent in 2008.
•According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in America. The bureau projected the consumption of 45.5 million turkeys in 2009.
•The National Turkey Federation estimated 46 million turkeys were consumed at Thanksgiving in 2007.
•Fifteen pounds is the average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving dinner. That means about 690 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the U.S. during 2007.
•In a survey by the National Turkey Federation, almost 88 percent of Americans said turkey is the choice meat at Thanksgiving.
•Illinois, California, Pennsylvania and New York are the primary pumpkin growing states. They produced 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkin in 2008, profiting $141 million.
•The sweet potato is the most-produced vegetable in North Carolina, which grew 874 million pounds in 2008. California and Mississippi also produced large amounts of sweet potatoes, 437 million pounds and 335 million pounds, respectively.
•In 2009, cranberry production in the U.S. was about 709 million pounds. The states that grow the most cranberries are Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.
•The largest pumpkin pie ever cooked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured over 12 feet long, according to the “Guinness Book of World Records.”
The New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio baked it on Oct. 8, 2005 and included 900 pounds of pumpkin, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, 155 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of sugar, and 3.5 pounds of salt, seven pounds of cinnamon, two pounds of pumpkin spice and 250 pounds of crust.
Turkey Day Traditions
•The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in New York City in 1924. Macy’s employees launched the parade and filled it with animals from the Central Park Zoo. About three million people attend the parade annually and about 44 million watch it on TV.
The first giant hot air balloon for the Macy’s Day parade Thanksgiving was in 1927, designed by Tony Sarge, children’s book illustrator and puppeteer.
•Snoopy appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade more times than any other character.
•The Detroit Lions football team has played a game every Thanksgiving since 1934, except between 1939 and 1944. In 1956, the game was televised for the first time.
•Turkey is the name of three towns in the U.S., including Turkey, Texas, population 465, Turkey Creek, LA, population 363 and Turkey, N.C., population 270.
For more information on the history of Thanksgiving, visit the History Channel at www.history.com.