Thanksgiving is upon us! Well, in a few days at least. And while I learned the origins of Thanksgiving as a young kid in grade school, I was interested as an adult to learn more about some Thanksgiving traditions and why we celebrate them.  If you've ever been curious too, well, here you go!

 

  • 1

    All the Corn

    Corn is ALL over the place at Thanksgiving. We don't all necessarily always eat corn at Thanksgiving, but dried corn is an image that goes hand in hand with Thanksgiving.  Why? Well, the successful first corn harvest led to Thanksgiving.

    According to history.com, only about half of the Mayflower's original passengers survived the brutal first winter after arriving to America.  While they mostly stayed on the Mayflower ship throughout the winter to try and survive, come March the settlers moved on to land. It was then that the Pilgrims encountered a Native American who introduced them to Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet Tribe.  Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn, collect sap, and which plants were safe and weren't safe to eat.  Ultimately, in November of 1621 when the first corn crop was successful, Governor William Bradford organized the first Thanksgiving feast with Pilgrims and Native American allies.  It wasn't really dubbed Thanksgiving back then, however it is considered our first Thanksgiving.  So really, Thanksgiving is attributed to a good corn crop!

    Some historians do debate this though- read all about it at history.com.

  • 2

    The 4th Thursday in November

    Why the 4th Thursday in November?  Seems kind of a random date.  And it's certainly not the date of the original meal with the Pilgrims and the Native Americans.

    Well, according to history.com, Sarah Josepha Hale who was a well-known author ("Mary Had a Little Lamb") was campaigning for Thanksgiving to be made a national holiday for 36 years.  yup- YEARS.  President Lincoln finally was the one who acknowledged her request in 1863.  This was during the peak of the Civil War, and President Lincoln adopted the holiday to "heal the wounds of the nation."  So the day was picked by President Lincoln.  Franklin Roosevelt did try to move the day up during the Great Depression to help holiday sales and the economy, however there was a ton of opposition, and a bill was signed in 1941 officially making Thanksgiving the 4th Thursday in November.

  • 3

    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

    Why did Macy's start a ridiculously huge Thanksgiving day parade?! What's with that?  Well, here's why.

    According to history.com, Macy's actually started the parade with the intention of it being a Christmas parade, and to kick off the holiday shopping season.  The first parade, on November 27, 1924 was the "Macy's Christmas Parade" full of clowns, characters, and actual animals from the Central Park Zoo. It had a circus feel but also was meant to match the Macy's window displays of nursery rhyme characters (think Little Miss Muffet and Red Riding Hood).  The parade was such a success to Macy's that they started to do it annually, however the route was too long for the zoo animals, and live animals were soon replaced with huge helium filled balloons in 1927.

     

  • 4

    Football on Thanksgiving

    Why football on Thanksgiving? Well, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Website, this tradition dates back to 1934 in Detroit.  The Portsmouth Spartans had been bought, and moved to Detroit as the Lions in 1934.  George Richards, who had purchased the team, noticed that the Lions and football were second in the news to baseball, so as a marketing ploy, he decided to schedule a game on Thanksgiving.  The Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears in 1934 in Detroit, and thus the Thanksgiving day football tradition was born.  From 1939-1944 there was a gap, but aside from that, there's always been a Thanksgiving football game going on!