10 Things You Didn't Know About Thanksgiving

10 Things You Didn't Know About Thanksgiving

Every year, millions of Americans look forward to settling down at the table with friends and family and digging into a big Thanksgiving meal with all the traditional trimmings. Like all major holidays and other events celebrated by a whole lot of people, there are plenty of fun little facts and figures about all aspects of the holiday — from the iconic turkey to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade — that we bet you didn't know, and we've rounded up our favorite 10. 

A Magazine Editor Played a Big Role in Its Establishment

Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in1863, largely thanks to the efforts of a magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale — who also wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb"!

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Ben Franklin Wanted the Turkey to Be Our National Bird

He thought that eagles had "bad moral character."

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Canadians Celebrate It, Too

Canadian Thanksgiving (or just "Thanksgiving" to them) is held on the second Monday in October.

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Which Came First, the Bird or the Country?

Europeans were big fans of Guinea fowls, which were imported by Turkish merchants. They nicknamed the birds turkeys, and when Spaniards came to the New World and discovered similar-looking birds here, the name carried over.

You Have No Reason to Roast a Turkey This Thanksgiving

Felix the Cat Was the First Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon

He was introduced in the fourth-annual parade, held in 1927.

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It’s Responsible for the First TV Dinner

Back in 1953, Swanson was faced with a massive turkey surplus (260 tons' worth), so they decided to take advantage of new technology in freezing and packaging, and created what's gone down in history as the first mass-market TV dinner.

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The Balloons Were Originally Cut Loose at the End

Because there were no deflation procedures in place, the earliest parade balloons were just let go at the end, and those who found them after they came back down to earth could send them back to Macy's to claim a prize.

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The Macy’s Parade Isn’t the Oldest

That title belongs to Philadelphia's 6ABC Thanksgiving Day Parade, which started in 1920, four years before New York's.

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Domesticated Turkeys Can’t Fly

Only wild turkeys, which are lighter, can fly; they actually fly up into trees to sleep at night.

Why Don't We Eat Turkey Eggs?

Turkey Is Healthier Than Chicken

A 3-ounce serving of chicken contains 240 calories; the same amount of turkey contains just 190.

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