You celebrate Thanksgiving each year, but how much do you know about the holiday? Here are five facts for you to digest.
1. The first Postmaster General was wild about turkeys. Contrary to popular myth, Benjamin Franklin did not want the turkey to be our national bird, but he did think the turkey would have been a more suitable national symbol than the bald eagle. An eagle, he wrote in a letter to his daughter, had “bad moral character.” A turkey, on the other hand, was “much more respectable.”
2. The United States is home to more than 60 places named Turkey. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 62 locations in 24 states that bear the bird’s name. Examples include Turkeyfoot Heights, OH; Turkey Pond, SC; and Turkey Cobble, CT.
3. Minnesota is all about turkey. The state produces more turkeys than any other, raising almost 42 million in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
4. Turkeys pardoned by presidents go on to do some pretty cool things. George H.W. Bush became the first president to “officially” pardon a turkey in 1989, a tradition that has continued. Since then, some presidentially pardoned turkeys have served as parade grand marshals at Disney theme parks while others have retired to George Washington’s Mount Vernon, VA, estate.
5. Football has been a central part of the holiday for more than a century. The first Thanksgiving Day football game took place in the mid-1870s, when Princeton played Yale in Hoboken, NJ. The Princeton-Yale game was a catalyst for the creation of a popular audience for Thanksgiving Day football, and by the 1890s there were thousands of games being played across the nation.
6. Yes, there are Thanksgiving stamps. The releases include a 1994 stamp that showcases “Freedom From Want,” Norman Rockwell’s famous painting depicting a turkey dinner, and four 2009 stamps that honor the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
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