History & Fun Facts about Thanksgiving


In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England. It was carrying 102 passengers who were seeking a new home where they could have religious freedom. After a treacherous crossing, the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts, where the passengers (Pilgrims) established the village of Plymouth in what they called 'New England.'

The Pilgrim's first winter in Plymouth, MA was brutal and only half of them survived.  In the following Spring, the surviving Pilgrims suffering from malnutrition and illness, were befriended by a Native American man,  Squanto, who taught them how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe.

In 1621, to celebrate their regained health and first successful corn harvest, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is considered to be the first Thanksgiving celebration. For more than 200 years, Thanksgiving continued to be celebrated but by individual colonies and states on different days.

Our having a National Thanksgiving Day is due largely to Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the famous "Mary Had a Little Lamb" nursery rhyme. Hale spent 40 years advocating for a national, annual Thanksgiving day. In 1863, when the United States was being torn in half by the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln listened to Hale and to help foster a sense of American unity proclaimed the last Thursday of November Thanksgiving Day.

On December 26, 1941 President Roosevelt and Congress, petitioned by retailers, made the date of Thanksgiving a little earlier. It was made the fourth Thursday in November to foster more shopping before Christmas and help give the struggling country an economic boost. It seems this was the unofficial beginning of the idea of "Black Friday"... but that is a story for another time!

From all of us here at Teen Kids News, we hope you have a Happy & Healthy Thanksgiving!!


  1. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in America.
  2. Nearly 88 percent of Americans said they eat turkey at Thanksgiving.
  3. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured just over 12 feet long. It was baked on October 8, 2005 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio, and included 900 pounds of pumpkin, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, 155 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of sugar, 3.5 pounds of salt, 7 pounds of cinnamon, 2 pounds of pumpkin spice and 250 pounds of crust.
  4. Three USA towns have Turkey in their name: Turkey, Texas (pop. 465); Turkey Creek, Louisiana (pop. 363); and Turkey, North Carolina (pop. 270).
  5. Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States instead of the eagle. 
  6. The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in New York City in 1924. It was launched by Macy's employees and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo.
  7. Snoopy has appeared as a giant balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade more times than any other character in history. He has had six reincarnations: Aviator Snoopy, Astronaut Snoopy, Skating Snoopy, Millennium Snoopy, and Flying Ace Snoopy.