Four Things You Didn't Know About Thanksgiving!

happy thanksgiving from cohen, feeley, altemose & rambo

As families across the Lehigh Valley and beyond come together to give thanks tomorrow, our entire firm wishes each of you the very best this Thanksgiving weekend. While turkey and football may have the spotlight tomorrow, here are a few fun facts about Thanksgiving Day:

1. The first Thanksgiving was a 3-day celebration.

Our modern Thanksgiving holiday may be limited to just a single day, but the original celebration went on for far longer. Celebrated in November 1621, William Bradford, the founder and longtime Governor of the Plymouth Colony settlement, organized a three day festival to celebrate the Pilgrims' first successful corn harvest.

2. President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.

Thanksgiving did not become an official national holiday until 1863. Writer and editor Sarah Josepha Hale, who famously wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb," was instrumental in convincing President Lincoln to declare the day a recurring holiday, writing countless articles and letters to him in support of the cause. 

3. Thanksgiving inspired the first TV dinners.

Walk into any grocery store's frozen food section and you'll see mountains of microwavable TV dinners. These meals in a box have been American staples for decades, but it was actually a big Thanksgiving mix-up that led to their original creation. In 1953, the Swanson company accidentally ordered 260 tons of Thanksgiving turkeys. In order to get rid of all that turkey without it going to waste, one of their salesmen came up with the idea to package the turkey on small trays along with cornbread dressing, gravy, peas, and sweet potatoes. The meals originally cost 98 cents a piece and were an immediate hit for Swanson, which sold over 10 million of the meals in the first year alone.

4. Around 46 million turkeys are cooked for Thanksgiving each year, except for one that's officially pardoned!

Each November is never a great time to be a turkey, except for the one pardoned by the President. President George H.W. Bush pardoned the first White House turkey in 1989 and it has become a national tradition ever since then. The lucky pardoned bird often gets royal treatment, including several that have gone on to serve at Walt Disney World and Disney Land in their Thanksgiving parades.