Thanksgiving Facts for Kids | An American National Holiday

When the leaves change color and the temperature becomes nippy; you know that it’s time for Thanksgiving! This holiday is one of the largest, if not THE largest celebrated in the United States every year. Despite the annual festivities, there are so many Thanksgiving facts for kids that you might not know about.

Thanksgiving Facts for Kids

History of Thanksgiving

We all know that it is a celebration of the coming together of pilgrims and Native Americans, specifically those of the Wampanoag tribe. The very first celebration was in the autumn of 1621. The Pilgrims were very happy with the success of their harvest. Ever since they started living in the area, it is the first time that their harvest was bountiful. This was mainly due to the help of the neighboring Native Americans.

The Native Americans taught them how to plant and which plants were good to eat. The reality of it is that there is no record of turkey being the main dish during the harvest feast, but there was mention of fowl. There was definitely some deer, courtesy of the Native Americans. It was also pointed out that it is likely that the menu on that first Thanksgiving feast was based mainly on Native American fare. This is because the pilgrims at that time may be short on the ingredients that they brought from their motherland. Several decades later, Pres. Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of each November to be celebrated for “general blessings”. In the year 1941, the government declared every last Thursday of November as a National Holiday.

Learn more: Native American Facts for Kids 

thanksgivingWhat’s on the Menu?

Turkey is usually the main dish served nowadays, along with many others. In the United States, Minnesota is the state which produces the most turkeys during the season. It is followed closely by North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and Indiana in turkey production.

For the past couple of years, it is estimated that over 45 million turkeys were prepared during Thanksgiving. Many of the ingredients for roasted turkey such as the stuffing and the sauce are available in cans in grocery stores. Whole dressed turkeys can also be bought from the grocery stores. It is highly unusual these days for the host of the dinner or lunch to dress his or her own turkey.

Pumpkin pie is also another staple for Thanksgiving. The top producers of pumpkins include New York, Illinois, California and Pennsylvania. Aside from being made into pie and other kinds of desserts, the pumpkin is also used largely to decorate for the harvest season and Halloween.  Cranberries, in the form of a sauce, are also another thing that you might find on the table during Thanksgiving.

Learn: Halloween Facts for Kids 

Both pumpkins and cranberries are ready to harvest and eat during the fall, especially in the Northeastern states. It is easy to assume that this is the main reason why these were featured in the very first Thanksgiving feast in the year 1621. You would be amazed to know that stuffing made from cornbread and sweet potatoes may have been influenced by the Southern states. Cornbread was a favorite by the Native Americans in the Southern states.

Are you familiar with the TV dinner? It is a ready-made meal that is usually heated in the microwave or oven. The TV dinner is eaten by many people while they are watching television. It was developed because there was too much extra turkey the day after Thanksgiving.

A salesperson of the turkey company suggested packaging the turkey into slices with some side dishes in trays covered with aluminium foil. Many people who serve turkey on Thanksgiving also make leftover slices into sandwiches for the next day. A lot of the food that is served during this holiday may be stored in the refrigerator and eaten several days after.

Celebrating the Holiday – Thanksgiving Facts for Kids

Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a day for “general blessings”. Today, most Americans celebrate the holiday by joining up with friends and family. Thanksgiving is the day when people from all over the country go home to celebrate.

Airports, bus and train terminals are usually full of people days before or on the day itself. In New York, the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is highly anticipated. It was initially started during the mid-1920’s and has continued up to this day. The very first parade consisted of employees of the store and live animals from the Central Park Zoo. The balloons and floats of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade were added through the years. The very first balloon that was used for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was Felix the Cat in the year 1927.

In the year 1947, President Truman initiated the first Turkey Pardon ceremony. This is a ceremony in which a turkey is chosen and presented to the President of the United States of America and it is spared from being roasted. This practice is still going on up to today. It is the National Turkey Federation of America that presents the live bird to the President. Along with the live turkey that is pardoned, the NTF also presents two dressed turkeys to the White House.

It should be noted that not only do US celebrate Thanksgiving but also Canada. Canadians’ holiday occurs on the second Monday of October. The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday. This is the day when many stores and retail outlets offer their merchandise and products on sale. A lot of people line up at stores before they even open to avail of the items on sale. Basically, Black Friday marks the start of the Christmas holidays shopping season. In connection, the Monday after Thanksgiving is called Cyber Monday. This is because many online merchants put up their items on sale as well. Some stores and outlets also put their electronic items and products on sale during this particular Monday.

The NFL also celebrates this holiday by hosting several football games during the weekend of Thanksgiving. A lot of people celebrate the weekend close to Thanksgiving with friends while watching a football game.

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