Thanksgiving is almost upon us—but how much do you know about America’s favorite day to eat turkey? Here’s the lowdown on Thanksgiving history, holiday travel, football, feasting, and more.
The History of Thanksgiving
In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
Thanksgiving Travel Tips
The Thanksgiving holiday is undoubtedly the busiest travel time of the year with notorious transportation delays, traffic and travel snags all meeting travelers at nearly every turn. But with a bit of foresight and some Thanksgiving travel planning, you may ease some travel headaches whether you’re heading home for the holidays or escaping for a drama-free adventure. Regardless of your plans, you’ll be thankful for these Thanksgiving travel tips.
- Plan Ahead – It’s never too early to start your holiday travel planning. In the early fall, you can take advantage of lower rates and seats aplenty.
- Travel Light – As more airlines start charging for checked bags, it’s a good idea to pack light and carry on your bag.
- Choose the Best Days – Avoid the busiest Thanksgiving travel day days by flying out on Monday or Tuesday or even Thanksgiving morning to avoid the dreaded Wednesday travel rush.
- High-Tech Troubleshooting – It’s commonsense to arrive at the airport early — you’ll need the time for parking, security and to wait your turn for that necessary cup of coffee.
Each year at least two lucky turkeys avoid the dinner table, thanks to a presidential pardon—a long-standing Washington tradition of uncertain origin. Today, thanks to hunting regulations and reintroduction efforts, “rafters” and “gangs” (never “flocks”) of wild turkeys are back in abundance. Some seven million wild turkeys are thriving across the U.S., and many of them have adapted easily to the suburbs—their speed presumably an asset on ever encroaching roads.
Wild turkeys can run some 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 kilometers) an hour and fly in bursts at 55 miles (89 kilometers) an hour. Domesticated turkeys can’t fly at all. When they’re not being the center of a Thanksgiving feast, turkeys enjoy quite a diverse spread themselves. The omnivore birds eat everything from nuts and berries to insects and snakes. Turkeys digest this diet with what becomes a prize portion for many a human feast—the gizzard. The gizzard is the muscle that enables turkeys to crush and chew their food, helped along by small stones the birds swallow. Here are favorite Thanksgiving dishes like perfect stuffing, rich pecan pie and juicy roast turkey. Plus, innovative takes on classic soups, satisfying vegetarian options, festive fall cocktails and more recipes for Thanksgiving food.
Want to cook great Thanksgiving dinner for your family? Download cooking videos from YouTube and follow the tutorial to prepare for a feast. Download YouTube Videos with Video Converter.