A brief presentation and quiz on the history of the Thanksgiving holiday. Good for grades 6-12.
- 1. Thanksgiving Fun Facts Quiz and Lore Naj Kutait-Faulkner, M.Ed., LBP, BCBA
2. Turkey Day LoreThough many competing claims exist, the most familiar story of the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony, in present- day Massachusetts, in 1621 3. An Official National HolidayMore than 200 years later, President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941. 4. 1. Fact or Fiction:Thanksgiving is held on the final Thursday of November each year. 5. Answer Fiction. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln designatedthe last Thursday in November as a national day ofthanksgiving. However, in 1939, after a request from theNational Retail Dry Goods Association, PresidentFranklin Roosevelt decreed that the holiday shouldalways be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of themonth (and never the occasional fifth, as occurred in1939) in order to extend the holiday shopping season bya week. The decision sparked great controversy, and wasstill unresolved two years later, when the House ofRepresentatives passed a resolution making the lastThursday in November a legal national holiday. TheSenate amended the resolution, setting the date as thefourth Thursday, and the House eventually agreed. 6. 2. Fact or Fiction:One of Americas Founding Fathers thought the turkeyshould be the national bird of the United States. 7. AnswerFact. In a letter to his daughter sent in 1784,Benjamin Franklin suggested that the wildturkey would be a more appropriate nationalsymbol for the newly independent UnitedStates than the bald eagle (which had earlierbeen chosen by the Continental Congress).He argued that the turkey was "a much morerespectable Bird," "a true original Native ofAmerica," and "though a little vain & silly, aBird of Courage." 8. 3.Fact or Fiction:In 1863, Abraham Lincoln becamethe first American president toproclaim a national day ofthanksgiving. 9. AnswerFiction. George Washington, JohnAdams and James Madison all issuedproclamations urging Americans toobserve days of thanksgiving, both forgeneral good fortune and forparticularly momentous events (theadoption of the U.S. Constitution, inWashingtons case; the end of the Warof 1812, in Madisons). 10. 4.Fact or Fiction:Macys was the first American department store to sponsor a paradein celebrationof Thanksgiving. 11. Answer Fiction. The Philadelphia department storeGimbels had sponsored a parade in 1920, but theMacys parade, launched four years later, soonbecame a Thanksgiving tradition and the standardkickoff to the holiday shopping season. The paradebecame ever more well-known after it featuredprominently in the hit film Miracle on 34th Street(1947), which shows actual footage of the 1946parade. In addition to its famous giant balloons andfloats, the Macys parade features live music andother performances, including by the Radio CityMusic Hall Rockettes and cast members of well-known Broadway shows. 12. 5. Fact or Fiction:Turkeys are slow-moving birds that lack the ability to fly. 13. AnswerFiction (kind of). Domesticated turkeys (the type eaten on Thanksgiving) cannot fly, and their pace is limited to a slow walk. Female domestic turkeys, which are typically smaller and lighter than males, can move somewhat faster. Wild turkeys, on the other hand, are much smaller and more agile. They can reach speeds of up to 20-25 miles per hour on the ground and fly for short distances at speeds approaching 55 miles per hour. They also have better eyesight and hearing than their domestic counterparts. 14. 6. Fact or Fiction:Native Americans used cranberries, now a staple of many Thanksgiving dinners, for cooking as well as medicinal purposes. 15. AnswerFact. According to the Cape Cod Cranberry GrowersAssociation, one of the countrys oldest farmersorganizations, Native Americans used cranberries ina variety of foods, including "pemmican" (anourishing, high-protein combination of crushedberries, dried deer meat and melted fat). They alsoused it as a medicine to treat arrow punctures andother wounds and as a dye for fabric. The Pilgrimsadopted these uses for the fruit and gave it aname"craneberry"because its drooping pinkblossoms in the spring reminded them of a crane. 16. 7. Fact or Fiction:The movement of the turkey inspired a ballroom dance. 17. AnswerFact. The turkey trot, modeled on that birdscharacteristic short, jerky steps, was one of anumber of popular dance styles that emerged duringthe late 19th and early 20th century in the UnitedStates. The two-step, a simple dance that requiredlittle to no instruction, was quickly followed bysuch dances as the one-step, the turkey trot, the foxtrot and the bunny hug, which could all beperformed to the ragtime and jazz music popular atthe time. The popularity of such dances spread likewildfire, helped along by the teachings andperformances of exhibition dancers like the famoushusband-and-wife team Vernon and Irene Castle. 18. 8. Fact or Fiction:On Thanksgiving Day in 2007, two turkeys earned a trip to Disney World. 19. Answer Fact. On November 20, 2007, President George W.Bush granted a "pardon" to two turkeys, namedMay and Flower, at the 60th annual NationalThanksgiving Turkey presentation, held in the RoseGarden at the White House. The two turkeys wereflown to Orlando, Florida, where they served ashonorary grand marshals for the Disney WorldThanksgiving Parade. The current tradition ofpresidential turkey pardons began in 1947, underHarry Truman, but the practice is said to haveinformally begun with Abraham Lincoln, whogranted a pardon to his son Tads pet turkey. 20. 9. Fact or Fiction:Turkey contains an amino acid that makes you sleepy. 21. AnswerFact. Turkey does contain the essential amino acidtryptophan, which is a natural sedative, but so do alotof other foods, includingchicken, beef, pork, beans and cheese. Thoughmany people believe turkeys tryptophan content iswhat makes many people feel sleepy after a bigThanksgiving meal, it is more likely thecombination of fats and carbohydrates most peopleeat with the turkey, as well as the large amount offood (not to mention alcohol, in some cases)consumed, that makes most people feel likefollowing their meal up with a nap. 22. 10. Fact or Fiction:The tradition of playing or watching football onThanksgiving started with the first NationalFootball League game on the holiday in 1934. 23. Answer Fiction. The American tradition of college football onThanksgiving is pretty much as old as the sport itself.The newly formed American Intercollegiate FootballAssociation held its first championship game onThanksgiving Day in 1876. At the time, the sportresembled something between rugby and what we thinkof as football today. By the 1890s, more than 5,000 club,college and high school football games were taking placeon Thanksgiving, and championship match-ups betweenschools like Princeton and Yale could draw up to 40,000fans. The NFL took up the tradition in 1934, when theDetroit Lions (recently arrived in the city and renamed)played the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroitstadium in front of 26,000 fans. Since then, the Lionsgame on Thanksgiving has become an annual event,taking place every year except during the World War IIyears (19391944). 24. Enjoy Your Holiday!Najla Kutait-Faulkner, M.Ed., LBP, BCBA