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Thanksgiving Through The Centuries!

PGP Mediation Blog by Phyllis G. Pollack

Thanksgiving will soon be upon us. And while we will all give thanks for the many blessings that we have, I thought I would share some of the lesser known, but interesting facts about our national holiday. (Spoiler alert: This blog has absolutely nothing to do with mediation!)

As we all learned in our American History classes (which the Commonwealth of Virginia required that I take no less than four times before graduating high school!), the first Thanksgiving in America allegedly took place at Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts in 1621. I say "allegedly" because there are actually 12 different locations claiming to be hosts of the "first" Thanksgiving: two in Texas, two in Florida, one in Maine, two in Virginia and five in Massachusetts. (Random Facts.) The first one in Virginia was actually in 1607, although the settlers in Jamestown also held one in 1610. (Wikipedia). Further, it appears that Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his expedition celebrated the truly first Thanksgiving in 1541 in Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas panhandle. (Random Facts).

The Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims lasted three days (Coolest Thanksgiving Facts.). Now it lasts 4-5 days with Wednesday being an almost holiday and Friday a shopping frenzy. During that first Thanksgiving, the celebrants ate with spoons and knives as forks were not introduced to America until 1630 by Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts and not widely used until the 1700’s. (Weird Thanksgiving Day Facts.)

While President Jefferson did proclaim Thanksgiving a federal holiday, he did not think much of it, calling it "the most ridiculous idea ever conceived." (Random Facts.) (I doubt the retailers of today would agree with his assessment!) At the same time, his colleague Benjamin Franklin wanted the national bird to be a turkey. (Coolest Thanksgiving Facts.)

Since 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it "… a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens", we have used the fourth Thursday of the month of November as a day to celebrate our individual and collective "thanksgivings" (Wikipedia.). He did it at the urging of Sara Hale (1788-1879) (Random Facts.).

In 1939, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up a week, hoping that this would create a longer shopping season for Christmas and thus improve if not boost the economy. (Id.) However, in 1942, Congress passed a resolution setting the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving. (Id.) (Although Jingle Bells was originally a Thanksgiving song!) (The Bulletin Bored)

It was not until 1947 that President Truman pardoned the first turkey. That fine bird spent its remaining days at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia (Weird Thanksgiving Day Facts.) President George H. W. Bush made the pardoning of a turkey a permanent annual and official tradition in 1989 in his first year in office. (Wikipedia.) (I guess the turkey was a good negotiator as he/she succeeded in saving his/her own life!)

In 1953, there was approximately 260 tons of frozen turkey left over from Thanksgiving. As a result, Swanson came up with the idea of frozen T. V. dinners. (Weird Thanksgiving Day Facts) (Talk about over estimating demand!) It sold for 98 cents and consisted of turkey, cornbread stuffing, frozen peas and sweet potatoes (The Bulletin Bored.)

These frozen dinners have even made it to the moon. Turkey was the first meal that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ate when they were on the moon. (LiveScience.). Turkey has been a frequent meal on both U.S. and Russian space missions. (Weird Thanksgiving Day Facts.)

On Thanksgiving, approximately 88 percent of us will be eating Turkey. (LiveScience.) . As of 2012, this means approximately 254 million turkeys were grown and eaten. The average weight of our turkey will be 16 pounds (Id.) although the heaviest (or largest?) dressed turkey according to The Guinness Book of Records weighed in at 86 pounds at a competition held in London, England in December 1989. (Coolest Facts.) According to the National Turkey Association, in 2007, Americans ate 690 million pounds of turkey or equal to the weight of the entire population of Singapore. (Weird Thanksgiving Day Facts.)

And what would be Thanksgiving without cranberries? Originally they were used by Native Americans to treat wounds, to dye clothes, (Random Facts) and decorate pottery. (Coolest Facts). Today, we eat 20 percent of all cranberries on this one day. (Id). In 2012, approximately 768 million pounds of cranberries were produced in the United States. In addition, in 2012, the United States produced approximately, 2.6 billion pounds of sweet potatoes. (LiveScience.)

And let’s not forget that green bean casserole invented by Campbells Soup in 1955 (Weird Thanksgiving Day Facts) and first published in an Associated Press holiday food feature. (Bulletin Bored.)

So, when you have finished your Thanksgiving meal, you may assume that you have consumed an average of 4500 calories or 1.3 pounds. If you weigh approximately 160 pounds, you will need to walk 45 miles to burn it off! (Bulletin Bored.) (I wonder if my walking pal- Cookie- is up for an ultra walking marathon?)

… And with that, I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

…. Just something to think about!


Phyllis Pollack

Phyllis Pollack with PGP Mediation uses a facilitative, interest-based approach. Her preferred mediation style is facilitative in the belief that the best and most durable resolutions are those achieved by the parties themselves. The parties generally know the business issues and priorities, personalities and obstacles to a successful resolution as… MORE >

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