What You Didn’t Know About Thanksgiving

When it comes to interesting facts about the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s a virtual horn of plenty.

What some of us call Turkey Day didn’t become a national holiday until 1863. Just weeks before President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, he proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until 1939 when President Franklin Roosevelt declared Thanksgiving should be observed on the fourth Thursday of the month. Congress made it a national holiday in 1941.

As for the turkey your family is about to devour, it’s a good bet that bird was raised in Minnesota. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the Gopher State raises around 46 million of them. North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia and Indiana are also big turkey-raising states. And did you know there are four places in the U.S. named after the traditional main course? There’s Turkey Creek, Louisiana; Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; and Turkey Creek, Arizona. Possible sister-cities include Cranberry, New Jersey and Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania.

Many of us will tune in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. That first started in 1924 and was originally called the Macy’s Christmas Parade and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo. The giant balloons didn’t appear until 1927.

Planning to watch some football before your feast? The Detroit Lions first played on Thanksgiving Day in 1934 and except for a few years during World War Two, they’ve played on every Turkey Day since.

And as you gobble down that last morsel of pumpkin pie, amaze your friends and tell them Illinois is the top pumpkin-producing state in the nation. The “Land of Lincoln” produces around 520 million pounds of pumpkins per year.