Skip to main content

A Day Of Thanks

03/19/2013 11:49AM, Published by Claudia Mosby, Categories: In Print, Life+Leisure



Thanksgiving History, Traditions and Trivia

By Claudia Mosby

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven. ~ Johannes A. Gaertner

Thanksgiving immediately evokes certain images and associations: roasted turkey with all the trimmings, reunions with family and friends, football and parades, and Pilgrims.

Historians suggest that many of the dishes at the first feast were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. The meal would not have included pies (a hallmark of contemporary celebrations) because the Pilgrims had no oven in which to bake them and the Mayflower’s sugar supply was short by the fall of 1621.

The classic Thanksgiving menu of turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie and root vegetables is based on the New England fall harvest. Over time, local cooks modified the menu according to food preference, but also due to limited food supplies. Many substitute regional seafood, meats and produce for the traditional Thanksgiving menu.

Today’s Thanksgiving celebration is a blend of two earlier traditions: the New England custom of harvest celebrations (based on ancient English harvest festivals) and the Puritan Thanksgiving, a solemn religious observance combining prayer and feasting.

TAKE A LOOK The roots of this truly American holiday are attributed to a celebratory feast between the Wampanoag tribe and Pilgrims after their first successful corn harvest. Take a peek into the history of Thanksgiving, interesting facts and trivia associated with the holiday, a quiz to test your turkey IQ and a list of organizations in the North State dedicated to sharing bounty with those in need. Enjoy!

A DAY OF CELEBRATION Giving thanks with a celebratory feast after a successful crop was practiced in both Native and European traditions in the 17th century. Although historically little is known about the three-day feast that took place in Plymouth in 1621 between the Pilgrims and their Wampanoag allies, it has been used as the model for the Thanksgiving tradition we know today.

POPULAR ALTERNATIVES TO A TURKEY DINNER Goose or Duck (traditional European centerpieces for Christmas dinners) Quail (particularly in Texas and other parts of the Southwest) Dungeness Crab (West Coast) Venison (Northeast) Whale (Alaska) Tofurkey (Tofu roast favored by some vegetarians and vegans)

THE ANATOMY OF A TURKEY The Caruncle: a red-pink fleshy growth on the head and upper neck of the turkey  The Snood: a long, red, fleshy growth from the base of the beak that hangs down over the beak  The Wattle: a bright red appendage at the neck The Beard: a black lock of hair found on the chest of the male turkey 

TEST YOUR TURKEY IQ  1. Where was the turkey first domesticated? 2. What is a female turkey called? 3. What is a male turkey called? 4. What sound does a female turkey make? 5. What sound does a male turkey make? 6. About how many feathers does a mature turkey have? 7. How fast can wild turkeys run? 8. Can wild turkeys fly? If so, how fast? 9. What is the name of the skin that hangs from a turkey’s neck? 10. What is the ratio of white to dark meat on a turkey? 11. A large group of turkeys is called a _____? 12. A baby turkey is called a _____? And is what colors?

Answers: 1) Mexico and Central America; 2) A hen; 3) A tom; 4) Cluck; 5) Gobble; 6) 3,500; 7) 25 mph; 8) Yes, for short distances; up to 55 mph 9) Wattle; 10)70:30; 11) Flock; 12) Poult; tan & brown

THANKSGIVING TRIVIA • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured more than 12 feet long.

• The last Thursday of November was designated the Thanksgiving holiday by Abraham Lincoln.

• Three towns in the United States take their name from the traditional Thanksgiving bird, including Turkey, Texas (pop. 465); Turkey Creek, Louisiana (pop. 363); and Turkey, North Carolina (pop. 270).

• Approximately 90% of American homes eat turkey on Thanksgiving.

• Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in America.

• June, not November, is National Turkey Lovers’ Month.

• Six states—Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia and Indiana—account for nearly two-thirds of the turkeys raised in the United States annually.

• Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington are the top cranberry growing states.

PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES While it may seem like everyone is traveling on Thanksgiving Day, the American Automobile Association (AAA) finds the true number is closer to one sixth of the U.S. population. Last year, AAA estimated 42.5 million Americans drove more than 50 miles from home to celebrate the holiday, a four percent increase over the 40.9 million who traveled in 2010. If 2012 follows a similar pattern, about 44 million of us will be on the road again this month.

Additionally, AAA estimates last year 3.4 million people traveled by air and another 900,000 by bus, train or other mode of transportation.

NFL FOOTBALL – THE THANKSGIVING CONNECTION  In 1934, local radio executive G.A. Richards bought the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans and moved them to Detroit. In an attempt to build up the newly renamed Detroit Lions fan base, he scheduled a Thanksgiving Day game against the reigning world champions, the Chicago Bears.

Hosted at the University of Detroit stadium, the game drew 26,000 spectators. Knowing the publicity potential of radio, Richards and NBC set up a network broadcast of the game to 94 stations across the country, marking the first national broadcast of Thanksgiving Day football.

Since then, professional football has been a Thanksgiving Day tradition, with the Lions playing a game every Thanksgiving (except between 1939 and 1944). The Dallas Cowboys host a second game; since 2006, a third game, with no fixed opponents, has also been played annually.

THE MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE      The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924 as a Christmas Parade consisting of store employees and professional entertainers in costume marching from Harlem to Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street in New York City.

The first parade featured floats, bands and live animals from the Central Park Zoo, the latter replaced in 1927 by large animal-shaped balloons produced by the Goodyear Tire Company.

Due to the need for rubber and helium in the war effort, the parade was suspended from 1942 to 1944, but then resumed and became a permanent fixture in the American consciousness surrounding Thanksgiving after it was featured in the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street.

In 1924, a quarter of a million spectators lined the parade route; today that number has grown to an estimated 2.5 million. Another 44 million watch the parade annually on television.

GIVING THANKS - SHARING WITH OTHERS  The following agencies serve their communities with a variety of hot meal, home delivery and boxed food programs. They gratefully accepted food donations. Call for information.

Butte County Community Action Agency – (530) 712-2600 ext. 2* Senior Nutrition Program (serving three counties) – daily lunch and food home delivery program The North State Food Bank (serving six northern counties) – emergency food services *New telephone number as September 2012

Shasta County Shasta Senior Nutrition Program – (530) 226-3071 Emergency Food Program; Senior Brown Bag Program; Hot lunch and Meals-on-Wheels Programs Anderson-Cottonwood Christian Association – (530) 365-4220 Good News Rescue Mission – (530) 242-5920 Living Hope Compassion Ministries – (530) 243-8066 People of Progress – (530) 243-3811 Redding Loaves & Fishes – (530) 241-1108 Salvation Army – (530) 222-2207 Shasta-Trinity-Tehama HIV Food Bank – (530) 223-2118

Siskiyou County Emergency Food Great Northern Corporation – (530) 938-4115 ext. 816 Siskiyou Assistance and Food Corporation at New Life Thrift Store – (530) 938-2699 (Weed–Coordinates food pick-up and distribution for multiple communities)

Tehama County Tehama County Gleaners Inc. Food Bank (530) 529-2264; (Red Bluff)



holiday A Day of Thanks Thanksgiving History, Traditions and Trivia Community Action Agency Shasta Senior Nutrition Program Emergency Food Great Northern Corporation Tehama County Gleaners Inc. Food Bank


  • Hayfork Farmers' Market

    07/28/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Come listen to live music, shop for local goods and produce and cultivate community! The Farmers'...


  • Canvas and Cocktails

    07/28/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Come drink and paint with us! You don’t need ANY art experience to enjoy this evening of fun, mus...


  • THE COST OF WINNING A drama by Denise Derk Directed by Michael Gilboe and Denise Derk For so...


It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • Sunset Through the Trees

    08/01/2017
    06:00PM — 08:30PM

    Seven week fun run series. Open to all runners and walkers. Locations include: Lake Redding ...


Enter to Win!

Check out our sister publication, Enjoy Magazine: South Valley Living
Wedding Style Guide 2017
Enjoy Magazine Facebook
Enjoy Magazine Instagram Instagram
Enjoy Magazine Pinterest Enjoy Magazine

Enjoy Our Sponsors