5 Things You Didn't Know About Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, folks! Although Thanksgiving will be a little different for many of us this year, today is still a day to give thanks! So grab a drumstick, and enjoy these 5 tasty Thanksgiving tidbits… 

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The Original Thanksgiving Lasted for Three Days When the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving in November 1621, they spent three glorious days feasting on venison, goose, duck, oysters, fish, and eel with cranberries and pumpkin -- but no turkey. Only five women are believed to have been present at the celebration among the 50 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans. Originally, the Pilgrims intended to make it a day of prayer and fasting, but the arrival of the natives changed all that.

Thomas Jefferson Canceled Thanksgiving During His Presidency George Washington was the first to declare Thanksgiving a holiday, but it was on a year-to-year basis, so presidents had to re-declare it every year, according to The Washington Post. Thomas Jefferson was so adamantly against Thanksgiving that he refused to declare it a holiday during his presidency, and many say that he called the holiday "the most ridiculous idea ever conceived." Most historians agree that Jefferson really refused to declare the holiday because he believed in the separation of church and state, and thought that the day of "prayer" violated the First Amendment. It wasn’t until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a federal holiday, that it was officially scheduled to fall on the fourth Thursday of every November. 

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The Origin of Turkey Pardons Is Fuzzy The White House has a tradition of pardoning one lucky turkey each year. No one actually knows when U.S. presidents began offering their turkeys a presidential pardon. The annual tradition is believed to have begun in 1947 with President Harry Truman. However some historians believe that it actually started in the 1860s with Abraham Lincoln after his son Tad begged him to spare his pet turkey's life. Despite these two theories of the origins of the pardon, George H. W. Bush was the first president to officially grant a turkey a presidential pardon, according to The New York Times. 

Macy’s First Parade on Thanksgiving Day Featured Live Animals The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York took place in 1914 when Macy’s employees dressed in vibrant costumes and marched to the flagship store on 34th Street. The parade used floats instead of balloons, and it featured monkeys, bears, camels, and elephants all borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. It was also originally called the Macy’s Christmas Parade, but was renamed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1927. 

Felix The Cat Was The First Balloon Used In The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Felix the Cat was a star of the silent film era and had a comic strip in newspapers around the nation when he made his Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in 1927, the first year the event featured cartoon character balloons. Without a plan to deflate this massive balloon, NYC parade organizers simply let Felix fly off into the sky. Unfortunately, the Felix the Cat balloon got caught in some telephone wires and caught fire. In 2016, after a nearly 90-year hiatus, Felix made a triumphant return to the parade.