Learn some Thanksgiving Facts For Kids of all ages! We're sharing the history of the holiday along with some other fun trivia questions and interesting facts.
These Thanksgiving fun facts for kids are a great way to understand the history of Thanksgiving as well as share some great Thanksgiving trivia at your next gathering!
Thanksgiving happens towards the end of the Autumn season in the Northern Hemisphere, and the Spring season in the Southern Hemisphere.
There are all kinds of Thanksgiving fun for kids including a number of crafts, games, coloring pages, and art projects
When is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the United States. It occurs on the fourth Thursday of November. President Franklin d. Roosevelt moved it up a week, but ultimately it landed on the last Thursday of November
Thanksgiving is celebrated in Canada on the second Monday of October each year.
Why Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is the celebration by both the United States and Canada of the harvests and blessings from the past year.
The gathering of family and friends around the table to enjoy a feast is modeled after the first Thanksgiving feast more than 300 years ago. The best way to understand the annual holiday is to look at the past.
Below you will find the history of Thanksgiving and some fun facts that are sure to win you some serious points at the next Thanksgiving Trivia Game.
History of Thanksgiving
Let's start at the beginning and move our way forward.
All About Thanksgiving For Kids
In 1620, the Pilgrims (approximately 100 people) left England looking for religious freedom and sailed to the New World. They landed on the shores of Massachusetts and settled in a colony in New England.
During an earlier voyage, John Smith, the same John Smith who had his life saved by Pocahontas, had visited and named the same area of Massachusetts Plymouth. He named it after the Plymouth port he set sail from in England. The Pilgrims decided to keep the name.
The first settled colony was in Jamestown, 12 years earlier by John Smith (yep, same one). The creation of the two colonies (Jamestown, Virginia, and Plymouth, Massachusetts) started the English settlement in North America.
America's First Thanksgiving
After the Pilgrim's first successful harvest in the Fall of 1621, they wanted to have a celebratory feast. They invited their Native American allies, the Wampanoag Indians.
Many of the Pilgrim women perished on the ride over on the Mayflower, and so it is believed that there was only a handful of women at the first Thanksgiving.
The feast was said to have lasted three days. While they do not know exactly what was on the menu, based on some found journals of Pilgrim men, the Thanksgiving meal consists of venison (deer/elk), goose, duck, oysters, lobster, muscles, eel, corn, pumpkin, and fruits (raspberries, grapes, plums, and of course cranberries).
Thanksgiving Fun Facts
- President George Washington was the first president to call for a national day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November.
- Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the famous "Mary Had A Little Lamb", lobbied to make Thanksgiving a national holiday for over 17 years.
- President Abraham Lincoln declared it a National Holiday in 1863.
- The first Thanksgiving football game was a college match between Yale and Princeton in 1876.
- The week of Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times of the year.
- Breaking the wishbone for good luck dates back to the Ancient Romans.
- Did you know that the cornucopia, also called the 'Horn of Plenty,' is a magical basket that's said to overflow with food, symbolizing a never-ending abundance during Thanksgiving feasts?
- Black Friday marks the day after Thanksgiving and kicks off the Christmas shopping season.
- “Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving song! The song was created in 1857 about children celebrating Thanksgiving. Not soon after was associated with Christmas and so two years later, the title was changed from One Horse Open Sleigh to Jingle Bells.
- About 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten each year during Thanksgiving dinner.
- The first TV dinner came from Thanksgiving leftovers. A Swanson employee ordered too many turkeys and so they decided to package individual dinners with all the fixings in aluminum trays and viola, TV dinners were started!
- Watching an NFL football game is a Thanksgiving tradition, and the Detroit Lions are known for playing almost every year.
The First Thanksgiving Facts
- Any sugar that was brought over on the Mayflower was sure to be gone by the time of the first Thanksgiving feast. Therefore there were no baked goods (pumpkin pie) or jams (cranberry sauce)
- Fish was plentiful in Plymouth and believed to be a large portion of the feast.
- Governor William Bradford organized the first feast!
- Potatoes (both white potatoes and sweet potatoes) had not yet been brought to America at the first feast. They originated in South America (most likely Peru) but had not made their way by 1621.
- There were approximately 150 people at the first Thanksgiving. There were approximately 50 Pilgrims (25 adults & 25 children) and a little less than 100 Native Americans.
- The Wampanoag people were Native Americans who played a crucial role in helping the Pilgrims during the first Thanksgiving, teaching them how to farm, and providing food.
- The first Thanksgiving feast lasted for three days, not just one, with feasting, games, and activities throughout the entire celebration.
- The Pilgrims and Wampanoag people did not sit at tables as we do today. Instead, they likely sat on the ground or on mats, eating with their hands or using knives and spoons.
- The exact date of the first Thanksgiving is not known, but it is believed to have occurred between late September and early November in 1621.
- Some of the foods at the first Thanksgiving included venison (deer meat), waterfowl like ducks and geese, seafood like fish and lobster, and a variety of vegetables and fruits.
- The Pilgrims did not have ovens for baking, so there were no pies at the first Thanksgiving. Instead, they likely had boiled or stewed pumpkin and other squashes as part of their meal
- Wild turkeys are native to North America. They were NOT part of the first meal.
- The U.S. has four towns named "Turkey". They are located in Texas, North Carolina, Louisana, and Arizona.
- President John F. Kennedy was the first president to pardon a turkey in 1963.
- Every president since pardons one turkey at the white house each year.
- 88% of Americans have Turkey on Thanksgiving according to the National Turkey Federation
- According to the US Dept of Agriculture, Minnesota raises the most turkeys. They produce over 40 million turkeys.
- Benjamin Franklin wished that the national bird of the United States was not a bald eagle but rather a turkey!
- Turkeys are highly social birds and often form flocks with other bird species, such as ducks and geese, for protection.
- The wild turkey has excellent eyesight and can see in full color. This sharp vision helps it detect predators from afar.
- Turkeys have a unique vocal range and can make various sounds, including gobbles, clucks, and purrs, to communicate with each other.
- Female turkeys, called hens, typically lay between 10 to 12 eggs in a clutch, and they are responsible for incubating and protecting the eggs until they hatch.
- Turkeys have a long history of being featured in Native American cultures, where they held symbolic significance and were used for their feathers, meat, and bones in various rituals and ceremonies.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- The first Macy’s parade was in 1924 in New York City.
- There were no balloons at the first parade. There were elephants, bears, camels, and monkeys borrowed from the Central Park Zoo
- The first oversized balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade debuted in 1927
- The oldest balloon in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is the Snoopy balloon.
- Over 50 million people watch the parade each year.
- The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade was originally called the "Macy's Christmas Parade" and served as a way to kick off the holiday shopping season.
- In 1934, the parade introduced its first balloon based on a popular cartoon character, Felix the Cat.
- During World War II, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade balloons were deflated and donated to the U.S. government to support the war effort.
- The tradition of releasing balloons into the sky after the parade ended in the 1930s but was revived in the 1950s.
- The parade has featured a variety of celebrity performers and hosts over the years, including actors, singers, and Broadway stars, making it a star-studded event watched by millions.
Discover fascinating facts about fall, the season of Thanksgiving, where nature's colors change and families come together to celebrate abundance and gratitude.
- Fall is the time for harvest festivals and celebrating the bounty of crops like pumpkins, apples, and corn
- Animals like squirrels and birds get busy during fall, gathering food and preparing for the colder winter months.
- Fall is a season of change, where the weather gets cooler, and the days become shorter as we approach winter.
- The leaves change color in fall because trees stop producing chlorophyll, revealing beautiful red, orange, and yellow pigments.
- The word "autumn" comes from the Latin word "autumnus," which means "the fall of the year.
- Fall is known as the "leaf-peeping" season when people visit forests to see the stunning fall foliage and vibrant colors of the changing leaves.
- Halloween and Thanksgiving are two popular holidays celebrated during the fall season, with costumes, candy, and feasting.
- Many animals, like monarch butterflies and Canada geese, embark on long migrations during the fall to reach warmer climates.
- In the Northern Hemisphere, fall officially begins on the autumnal equinox, which usually occurs around September 22nd or 23rd each year.
- Fall is an excellent time for stargazing as the nights become longer. It's a great opportunity to see constellations and meteor showers, like the Orionids.
Other Fun Thanksgiving Activities
Thanksgiving is a great time for gathering and giving thanks. We have a bunch of different activities that will be fun for the whole family this Thanksgiving.
We have a number of different crafts that are great for Thanksgiving.
- Thanksgiving Free Printable Coloring Pages
- Coloring Thanksgiving Placemats
- Happy Thanksgiving Coloring Pages
- November Coloring Page
- November Coloring Pages
Download Free November Facts Infographic
Enter your first name and email address to download the free Thanksgiving Facts pdf file.
*For personal use only
CONNECT WITH MADE WITH HAPPY!
Be sure to follow me on social media, so you never miss a post!
Find and shop my favorite products in my Amazon storefront here!