Thanksgiving Facts for Kids
- In September of 1620, 102 people set sail to the “New World.”
- These people are known as Pilgrims.
- The pilgrims were English Protestants who wanted to be free from the English church.
- They set sail for 66 days across the Atlantic Ocean on the ship the Mayflower.
- The Pilgrims landed in the Colony of Plymouth in what is now Massachusetts.
- The Pilgrims landed in an area that was occupied by the Wampanoag people. The Wampanoag people had been living there for centuries.
- The Pilgrims living on the new land were struggling to survive. They did not know how to grow food, many of them starved and died.
- Squanto an English speaking native visited the Pilgrims and taught them how to grow corn and fertilize their fields so they wouldn’t starve. His teaching helped save the Pilgrims and for this they were very thankful.
- In March 1621 an agreement was made between Pilgrim leader William Bradford and Wampanoag Chief Massasoit. It was agreed that the Wampanoag people and the Pilgrims would protect each other against enemies.
- To celebrate the agreement, the Wampanoag and Pilgrims had a harvest feast.
- This harvest feast is now referred to as the first Thanksgiving.
- This harvest feast lasted three days.
- During this time the Wampanoag people and the Pilgrims feasted on deer, duck, shellfish, cabbage, carrots, and eggs.
- No one knows for sure if turkey was eaten at the first Thanksgiving.
- They also played ball games, sang songs and danced.
- President George Washington declared the 1st national Thanksgiving Day in 1789 and again in 1795.
- In 1846 Godley’s Lady’s Book Magazine Editor Sarah Josepha Hale campaigned for Thanksgiving to be a national day of giving thanks and prayer.
- Her campaigning paid off and in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared two Thanksgivings one in August to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg and the second on the last Thursday in November to give thanks.
- In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to move Thanksgiving to the third Thursday in November. The country was still suffering from the Great Depression. President Roosevelt believed the moving Thanksgiving up one week would help the economy by making the Christmas shopping season longer.
- People were upset with the thought of moving Thanksgiving up. In 1941 Congress passed a law that declared Thanksgiving a national holiday to be held every year on the 4th Thursday of the month of November.
- In Canada Thanksgiving is held on the second Monday in October.
- Even though no one knows if turkey was eaten on the first Thanksgiving today over 90% of Americans eat Turkey on Thanksgiving.
- Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the US? He was outvoted and the eagle became the national bird
- Each year the president of the United States pardons one turkey so the turkey is not cooked and eaten for Thanksgiving dinner. The tradition started in 1947 with President Truman.
- One popular Thanksgiving tradition is watching the Macy’sThanksgiving parade. The parade first began in 1924. 400 Macy’s employees marched in the parade along with the animals from the Central Park Zoo. There were no giant balloons. Today thousands of people take part in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
- Character balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade started in 1927, they included a caveman, a dachshund, turkey, chickens, duck, dinosaur, and Felix the Cat.
- Mickey Mouse balloon debuted in the parade in 1934
- During World War II there were helium and rubber shortages. Macy’s cancelled the parade from years 1942-1944 and donated their rubber balloons to the U.S government.
- Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday kicks off the Christmas season shopping.
Popular Foods Served on Thanksgiving
Green Bean Casserole
Popular Dessert Items
Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, Apple Pie
When is Thanksgiving celebrated in the United States?
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of the month of November.
Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving was originally celebrated to celebrate the agreement made between the Wampanoag People and the Pilgrims to protect each other from enemies. Today we think of Thanksgiving as a day to celebrate our family and friends and everything that we are thankful for in our lives.
What were some of the foods the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people are the 1st Thanksgiving?
At their harvest celebration, the Wampanoag People and the Pilgrims ate corn, duck, deer, shellfish, carrots, and eggs. It is unknown if they ate turkey.
What activities did the Wampanoag People and the Pilgrims do on the 1st Thanksgiving?
The Wampanoag People and the Pilgrims danced, played ball games and sang songs.
When did the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade start?
The Macy’s Thanksgiving parade started in 1924