The first Thanksgiving dates to 1621, a three-day celebration of the Plymouth colony Pilgrims' good harvest that year. Since then, the tradition of feasting and giving thanks has persisted, especially along the east cost, but finally became a national holiday in 1863 by proclamation of President Lincoln.
But did you know that the first American Indians to visit the feast weren't invited? According toNational Geographic, men from the Wampanoag Indian tribe crashed the feast after hearing gun shots from the men at the colony who were target shooting for fun, much like men today play football before or after dinner.
So while you're thankfully noshing on turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie on Thursday, pull out some of these facts to impress your family and friends. Did you know:
- Minnesota is the top state for turkey production, expected to raise 46.5 million birds this year? North Carolina and Arkansas follow, with 30 million apiece.
- Plymouth, MN, is the most populous Plymouth in the nation? There are 37 places in the United States named Plymouth, in the namesake of the Pilgrims' landing site at Plymouth Rock. There were 70,576 people in Plymouth, MN, in 2010 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, while Plymouth, MA, followed with 56,468.
- Our neighbor to the east, Wisconsin, leads the nation in production of a couple other Thanksgiving favorites? Those would be cranberries, with 430 million of the nation's 750 million pounds in 2011, and snap green beans, with more than 258 of 656 tons nationally.
- The average American ate 13.3 pounds of turkey in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture? (Though we presume not all on Thanksgiving itself!) As for sweet potatoes? About 5.3 pounds went into the stomach of the average person in 2009.
- The pumpkin that makes your favorite Thanksgiving pie is part of the 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkin produced in the U.S. each year, according to the USDA?
Whatever your favorite Thanksgiving fare, we hope you enjoy a hearty helping on Thursday, and have some tasty leftovers remaining for Friday. Happy Thanksgiving!