Last Friday I posted a blog with assorted trivia about Thanksgiving. That post can be read here: Did you know THIS about Thanksgiving? Now for a random selection of additional statistics and factoids about this special American holiday.
The traditional cornucopia is a curved goat’s horn filled to brim with fruits and grains. According to Greek legend, Amalthea (a goat) broke one of her horns and offered it to Greek God Zeus as a sign of reverence. As a sign of gratitude, Zeus later set the goat’s image in the sky also known as constellation Capricorn. Cornucopia is the most common symbol of a harvest festival. A Horn shaped container, it is filled with abundance of the Earth’s harvest. It is also known as the ‘horn of plenty’.
In 2009, roughly 38.4 million Americans traveled more than 50 miles to be with family for Thanksgiving. More than four million flew home. Thanksgiving Day is actually the busiest travel day, even more so than the day before Thanksgiving, as most people believe.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured just over 12 feet long. It was baked on October 8, 2005 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio, and included 900 pounds of pumpkin, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, 155 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of sugar, 3.5 pounds of salt, 7 pounds of cinnamon, 2 pounds of pumpkin spice and 250 pounds of crust.
Green bean casserole was invented in 1955 by Campbell’s.The recipe was originally created for an Associated Press holiday food feature. The recipe supervisor at the New Jersey Campbell Soup home economics kitchen is credited with creating the ubiquitous Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup recipe. Campbell’s estimates that it sells more than $20 million dollars of that variety every year.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday largely because stores hope the busy shopping day will take them out of the red and into positive profits. Black Friday has been a tradition since the 1930s.
Originally known as Macy’s Christmas Parade—to signify the launch of the Christmas shopping season—the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in New York City in 1924. It was launched by Macy’s employees and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo. Tony Sarg, a children’s book illustrator and puppeteer, designed the first giant hot air balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1927. Snoopy has appeared as a giant balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade more times than any other character in history. As the Flying Ace, Snoopy made his sixth appearance in the 2006 parade. Today, some 3 million people attend the annual parade and another 44 million watch it on television.
Thanksgiving football games began with Yale versus Princeton in 1876. Less than a decade later, more than 5,000 club, college and high school football teams held games on Thanksgiving, with match-ups between Princeton and Yale drawing more than 40,000 fans out from their dining rooms. 1934 marked the first NFL game held on Thanksgiving when the Detroit Lions took on the Chicago Bears. The Lions have played on Thanksgiving ever since — except, of course, when the team was called away to serve during World War II.
Three towns have been named after the holiday’s starring player — Turkey, Texas, Turkey Creek, LA. and Turkey, N.C. — each with less than 500 residents. Legend has it that the pheasant’s name came from the wayward traveler Christopher Columbus, who thought he was in India when he arrived in “The New World” and, hence, dubbed the pheasant a “tuka,” an Indian term for peacock. The name stuck.
Presidentially-pardoned turkeys are now sent to Mount Vernon (George Washington’s estate) to live out their final days.
Jingle Bells was originally a Thanksgiving song. The song was composed by James Pierpont in 1857 for his Sunday school class’ Thanksgiving performance at their church. He wrote the song with simplicity in mind so that his students would have no trouble memorizing the tune. The song was so well-received at the Thanksgiving concert, that the children sang it again at Christmas–and that’s how it became associated with that holiday rather than Thanksgiving.