23 Nov 2016

Thanksgiving trivia

Generally, conversations on politics and religion, or comments about absentee family members or friends should be avoided at the Thanksgiving table. So what does that leave you to talk about? Maybe start here, and share these Thanksgiving fun facts to help keep the day light, civil and peaceful.


  • Most historians agree the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony, in what is now the state of Massachusetts, in 1621. The feasting and togetherness lasted for three days.
  • Over 200 years later, President Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. The declaration was largely due to the campaigning of magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale, who also wrote the nursery rhyme, Mary had a Little Lamb.
  • Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941.

Let’s talk turkey

  • Why is the roasted bird on your table called a turkey? One theory is that hundreds of years ago, Europeans enjoyed the tasty guinea fowls imported by Turkish merchants, which the English called turkeys. Later, when the Spaniards came to America, they found a bird that tasted like those guinea fowls. It was, you guessed it, a real turkey.
  • Another theory is that Columbus thought his New World was connected to India, where peacocks are abundant. So when he saw the wild “turkeys,” he thought they were a type of peacock (they’re actually a type of pheasant). So he named them “tuka,” which means “peacock” in the Tamil language.
  • Three towns in the U.S. share a name with the Thanksgiving bird, including Turkey, North Carolina (pop. 270), Turkey, Texas (pop. 465); Turkey Creek, Louisiana (pop. 363).
  • Six states—Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and Indiana—account for nearly two-thirds of all the turkeys raised in the U.S.
  • 91% of all Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

On the side

  • As they polish off that sweet potato casserole or pie, you can let your guests know that North Carolina is the nation’s top producer of the crop.
  • Do you have both stuffing and dressing on the table? You very well could, due to never-to-be-resolved regional differences. Southerners generally make dressing from cornbread, and bake it in a separate dish, while fifty percent of Americans favor a white bread stuffing that is cooked in the turkey.
  • The addition of oysters, apples, chestnuts, raisins, celery and/or other vegetables, sausage or the turkey’s giblets to dressing and stuffing vary region by region, state by state, city by city, family by family … well, you know.
  • More than forty million green bean casseroles show up at Thanksgiving. Is one at your table?
  • Twenty percent of cranberries eaten are eaten on Thanksgiving. Wisconsin is now the largest producer of the crop in the U.S.
  • Originally called crane berry, the cranberry gets its name from the pink blossoms and drooping head, which, to the Pilgrims, resembled a crane.
  • Native Americans did not eat the tart cranberries but did use them for dying fabric and decorating pottery.


  • Thanksgiving is also called Turkey Day, T-giving, T-day, Macy Day, Big Game Day—and the Canadians sometimes call our Thanksgiving “Yanksgiving” to distinguish it from their Thanksgiving holiday held in October.

No matter what you and your friends and family call it, we at Allen Tate wish you a very happy, fun and peaceful, holiday.



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