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’.
Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), who tirelessly worked to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday, also was the first person to advocate women as teachers in public schools, the first to advocate day nurseries to assist working mothers, and the first to propose public playgrounds. She was also the author of two dozen books and hundreds of poems, including “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
No forks at the first Thanksgiving! The first Thanksgiving was eaten with spoons and knives — but no forks! That’s right, forks weren’t even introduced to the Pilgrims until 10 years later and weren’t a popular utensil until the 18th century.
Thanksgiving was almost a fast — not a feast! The early settlers gave thanks by praying and abstaining from food, which is what they planned on doing to celebrate their first harvest, until the Wampanoag Indians joined them and turned the fast into a three-day feast.
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.
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.
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.