No holiday can amass American families together quite like Thanksgiving. Whether it’s the food, football, the day off, or even the looming shopping deals the next day, it is hard not to look forward to the fourth Thursday of November. It is easy to be thankful for the technical advances we’ve experienced as a society over the last 400 years. We’ve certainly come a long way from sitting outside and eating on barrels to air conditioning and air fryers.
Instead of diving into tech or listing how I am thankful for my family, I want to kick it analog with a list of little history fun facts you can dish out at the table this year when a family member starts to bring up politics.
- Sarah Josepha Hale campaigned for Thanksgiving as a national holiday during the Civil War to promote unity within the country. She succeeded on October 3rd, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving was to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26th. However, she is more famously known for writing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
- Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to change the celebration from the last Thursday in November to the third week in November to boost the economy by adding another week to the Christmas shopping season. They finally settled on designating the fourth Thursday in November, which is not always the last.
- The first official Thanksgiving football game was Yale versus Princeton in 1876. Professionally, there weren’t any games until 1920, and some of the teams to play that day were the Dayton Triangles, Decatur Staleys, and who could not remember the powerhouse Chicago Boosters who happened to drum the Hammond Pros 27-0 that Thanksgiving.
- Female turkeys don’t gobble.
My favorite part of the celebration is family traditions.
We lean more steak for the feast than turkey and have some whiskey as the Pilgrims and Wampanoag people did all those years ago. The timing of the feast is crucial to have the perfect nap during the first NFL game of the day. I am thankful and astonished the Chiefs are not playing on Thanksgiving this year because of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. The NFL script clearly did not count on the Swifties becoming football fans this year. If Kris Jenner were commissioner, they would be in prime time, I am sure of it.
If you made it this far, thank you for attending Hunter’s guest history lecture with an indubitable tangent, and I hope you and your family have a phenomenal turkey day.