Home » 10 Fascinating Thanksgiving Trivia – Questions and Answers

10 Fascinating Thanksgiving Trivia – Questions and Answers

10 Fascinating Thanksgiving Trivia – Questions and Answers

How much do you know about Thanksgiving day? Here are 10 fascinating Thanksgiving trivia questions and answers you may not know!

There were once many thanksgivings. During the time of the Pilgrims, it was common for a day of thanks to be held. These could be held for a variety of reasons. Any good fortune that was attributed to God was a potential reason.

Since 1941, the United States has celebrated Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. This is done with feasts of turkey, pumpkin pie and potatoes or sweet potatoes. Thanksgiving is also associated with parades (especially in New York), and professional football (especially in Detroit and Dallas).

Here are some interesting facts you may not know about the Thanksgiving holiday, which is celebrated as a national holiday in the United States of America.

1. When was the first Thanksgiving held?

No one knows for sure. There are only two written accounts and neither mention an exact date. Historians believe it occurred between September 21 and November 9 of 1621. The association between Thanksgiving and Thursday appears to begin in 1789, when President George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26 as a day of  “public thanks-giving.”

2. Why was Squanto so import to the Pilgrims?

It is widely known that Squanto lived with the Pilgrims and taught them how to plant corn. Even more important was his ability to translate between the Pilgrims and the local Wampanoag tribe. In 1614 he and others of his tribe were kidnapped by an English explorer and sold as slaves in Spain. He somehow made his way home via of England and Newfoundland, learning to speak English along the way. When he returned in 1619, his village had been wiped out by disease. Squanto died the following year, which was a great loss to the Pilgrims

3. Did the Pilgrims eat turkey at the first Thanksgiving?

Probably not. Accounts of the first Thanksgiving are not clear. The menu was definitely meat heavy, and we know they had venison and fowl. Most historians believe that the fowl were most likely geese and ducks, although it is known from written accounts that the Pilgrims did hunt turkeys in the fall of 1621. It seems that turkey became associated with Thanksgiving in the 1800s for practical reasons:

  1. It is an American bird, and not found in Europe
  2. It was not something people ate every day, which made it a good choice for a special day.
  3. It is large enough to feed a sizable gathering.

4. Was pumpkin pie on the menu for the first Thanksgiving?

Not exactly. They baked whole pumpkins in coals from a fire and served them with honey. Pumpkin pie recipes that had a pastry shell and spices such as clove, cinnamon and nutmeg appeared in English cookbooks in the 1670s. No cookbook was published in America until 1796.

5. Were potatoes or sweet potatoes served at the first Thanksgiving?

The potato is native to South America, but some had been brought to Europe before the Pilgrims left for the New World. The sweet potato is native to Central and South America, and it is mentioned in a 1604 English cookbook. The Pilgrims did not bring either potato with them when they crossed the Atlantic.

6. When did Thanksgiving become a national holiday?

Thanksgiving was a regional holiday until Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday in 1863.

7. Has Thanksgiving Day always been held on the fourth Thursday of November? 

No. Lincoln made it the last Thursday of November. Franklin Roosevelt changed it to the next to last Thursday in 1939, which was not a popular move. In 1941 he signed a bill which made it the fourth Thursday of November.

8. Which president gave the first official pardon to a Thanksgiving turkey? 

This is a little complicated. Abraham Lincoln spared a Christmas turkey. It has been claimed that Harry Truman spared a Thanksgiving turkey, but there is no documented evidence. When presented with a Thanksgiving turkey in 1963, John F. Kennedy said “Let’s just keep him.” In 1987, Ronald Reagan joked about pardoning the turkey. It wasn’t until 1989 when George H. W. Bush was president that a turkey received an official presidential pardon. All Thanksgiving turkeys since then have been pardoned.

9. What is the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade?

No, it’s not Macy’s in New York. It’s the 6ABC – Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade, which debuted in 1920 as the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade. Macy’s had their first parade four years later in 1924.

10. When was the first Thanksgiving Day NFL football game played?

Six National Football League games were played on Thanksgiving in 1920. Thanksgiving Day NFL games have been played every year since then, except during World War II. In 1934, the 11-0 Chicago Bears defeated the 10-1 Detroit Lions 19-16 before a sold out crowd in Detroit. Detroit has hosted a game on Thanksgiving every year since.

Hopefully, you now know a little more about the Thanksgiving holiday. When it comes, please celebrate it properly. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (yes, it’s still happening this year!), eat well and enjoy the football games. Most importantly, be thankful for all your blessings.



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Jocelyn Brown

A former school teacher, Jocelyn Brown created Hip Mama’s Place in 2007. Her motto for this blog is: get inspired, create and share! Jocelyn loves sharing about food and recipes, crafts, DIY projects and her random travels with her family. She also loves all things social media, but her latest obsession is Instagram.

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  1. Lily
    11/13/2020 / 5:32 am

    Wow these are very interesting facts! I never knew there was a Dunkin Donut parade let alone came before the Macy’s parade!

  2. 11/13/2020 / 2:54 am

    I don’t know that I have given this much thought to the history of Thanksgiving. These are all interesting facts.

  3. 11/12/2020 / 2:38 pm

    Interesting facts. I always like to teach my children the back story of holidays.

  4. 11/12/2020 / 2:23 pm

    I’m from the UK and know a bit about Thanksgiving but not a lot, so this was really fun to read!

  5. 11/12/2020 / 9:43 am

    Hhhhmmmmm…it has been good learning something about turkey and Thanksgiving! It is a holiday I had never wrapped my head around.

  6. 11/12/2020 / 2:00 am

    I had incorrectly thought it wasn’t a national holiday to the 1940s. Thanks for setting me straight! So interesting how early traditions morphed into what we have today!

  7. 11/11/2020 / 7:26 pm

    This is such a good read. I have always wondered why turkeys has been part of the Thanksgiving tradition and now, I have learned something new today. It totally makes sense that it is large enough to feed a sizable gathering.

  8. 11/11/2020 / 5:38 pm

    I have definitely learned some new facts about Thanksgiving. This is great!

  9. 11/11/2020 / 5:20 pm

    Wait – the Macy’s parade IS happening this year?!? Yay! I was bummed the Rose Bowl parade had been cancelled, so glad my girls and I can at least watch this one! 🙂

  10. 11/11/2020 / 4:41 pm

    These are all such interesting facts about Thanksgiving! I would have never known some of them.

  11. 11/11/2020 / 4:21 pm

    I’m going to keep these in mind when teaching my kids about Thanksgiving. Thank you!

  12. 11/11/2020 / 3:03 pm

    I love all of this Thanksgiving trivia. I knew several of them already, but awesome to learn about the others. So fun!

  13. Kimmy
    11/11/2020 / 2:33 pm

    I definitely learned something new about Thanksgiving by reading this.

  14. 11/11/2020 / 2:11 pm

    I love all sorts of random knowledge like this! LOL! I will keep these in mind during our family Thanksgiving zoom!

  15. 11/11/2020 / 11:36 am

    Interesting post! I hadn’t known a lot of these. Being in the UK, it’s not a holiday that’s celebrated here, but I definitely appreciate it’s sentiment.

  16. 11/11/2020 / 11:18 am

    Really fun trivia!! Great to know! Thank you for sharing these!

  17. 11/11/2020 / 7:55 am

    These are really fun trivia!! Great to know! Thank you!

  18. Ryan Escat
    11/11/2020 / 6:49 am

    We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Philippines but baking a whole pumpkin and serving it with honey sounds exciting. 🥳

  19. Tasheena
    11/11/2020 / 6:46 am

    I didn’t know some of these. Thanks for sharing this!

  20. Nikki Wayne
    11/11/2020 / 6:11 am

    Thanks for sharing these facts. It’s nice to know about the history of Thanksgiving.

  21. Sherry
    11/11/2020 / 4:35 am

    As a Canadian, it is interesting to read these facts about Thanksgiving. Even though both countries have this holiday the origin of the holiday is a bit different here.

  22. 11/11/2020 / 4:31 am

    These were really interesting!

  23. 11/11/2020 / 3:45 am

    Such fun facts about Thanksgiving! Love this!

  24. 11/11/2020 / 3:44 am

    These are very interesting topics! Some I didn’t know. Appreciate the lesson. 🙂

  25. Sabrina
    11/11/2020 / 2:34 am

    As a Canadian, I didn’t know much about American Thanksgivings (especially about American Presidents pardoning turkeys)!

  26. Beth
    11/11/2020 / 12:59 am

    I was surprised about how much of this I didn’t know. When I was a kid we always watched the Macy’s parade, but my kids never liked watching it. I think that’s because they would rather have been playing video games.

  27. 11/11/2020 / 12:57 am

    I loved learning new info about the first Thanksgiving. I will be using this as a homeschool lesson for my boys.

  28. 11/11/2020 / 12:07 am

    I learned so much about Thanksgiving! I can’t believe there was so much I didn’t know (or learned when I was in school and forgot)

  29. 11/10/2020 / 11:32 pm

    Not coming from the US this is really interesting to read as I while I know a little about Thanksgiving I can always learn more!

  30. Amber Myers
    11/10/2020 / 11:11 pm

    How cool. I didn’t know some of these. I’ll keep them in mind for table discussions!

  31. 11/10/2020 / 10:51 pm

    This was a fun read. I love to learn little facts like these. I can’t believe how much I didn’t know about Thanksgiving!

  32. Ben
    11/10/2020 / 10:49 pm

    This was a really cool read! I didn’t know that Squanto was kidnapped and then actually made it back. That’s fascinating.

  33. Pam Wattenbarger
    11/10/2020 / 10:28 pm

    What fun facts! I knew some of them but there were several I didn’t know. I thought Macy’s was the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade!

  34. 11/10/2020 / 10:25 pm

    I loved the post and it revealed so many little known facts. It would be nice to talk about these during a Thanksgiving feast at every table.

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