Thanksgiving Origins, Traditions and Fun Facts for 2021

Thanksgiving is upon us once again but how much do you know about this national holiday? This blog will look at Thanksgiving origins, traditions, and some fun statistics with information coming from Thanksgiving 2021 and 2021 Thanksgiving Fun Facts – Infographic with 60+ Facts.

Thanksgiving’s Ancient Origins

Although the American concept of Thanksgiving developed in the colonies of New England, its roots can be traced back to the other side of the Atlantic. Both the Separatists who came over on the Mayflower and the Puritans who arrived soon after brought with them a tradition of providential holidays—days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty.

As an annual celebration of the harvest and its bounty, moreover, Thanksgiving falls under a category of festivals that spans cultures, continents, and millennia. In ancient times, the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest. Thanksgiving also bears a resemblance to the ancient Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. Finally, historians have noted that Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on America’s shores.

Thanksgiving Traditions and Rituals

In many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance; instead, it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends. Turkey, a Thanksgiving staple so ubiquitous it has become all but synonymous with the holiday, may or may not have been on offer when the Pilgrims hosted the inaugural feast in 1621. (It wasn’t until October 3, 1863 that then President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.)

Today, however, nearly 90 percent of Americans eat the bird—whether roasted, baked or deep-fried—on Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation. Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Volunteering is a common Thanksgiving Day activity, and communities often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate.

Parades have also become an integral part of the holiday in cities and towns across the United States. Presented by Macy’s department store since 1924, New York City’s Thanksgiving Day parade is the largest and most famous, attracting some 2 to 3 million spectators along its 2.5-mile route and drawing an enormous television audience. It typically features marching bands, performers, elaborate floats conveying various celebrities and giant balloons shaped like cartoon characters.

Beginning in 1989 with President George H.W. Bush, the president of the United States has “pardoned” one or two Thanksgiving turkeys each year, sparing the birds from slaughter and sending them to a farm for retirement. A number of U.S. governors also perform the annual turkey pardoning ritual.

6 Thanksgiving Facts for 2021

If you have ever wondered how much money was spent or how the typical US family celebrates the holiday, WalletHub has gathered over 60 facts covering this and more. Here are the top 6 facts for 2021.

$312: Average person’s spending over the five-day Thanksgiving period.

10 Hrs. 2 Mins.: Length of time the average American male would need to spend on the treadmill to burn the 4,500 calories consumed at the average Thanksgiving meal.

$604+ Million: Estimated amount Americans spend on Thanksgiving turkeys each year, with 46 million turkeys killed for the holiday.

$26 Million: Amount of property loss caused by residential building fires each Thanksgiving.

46%: Share of people celebrating Thanksgiving who try to avoid having to talk politics at the dinner table.

65%: Share of Americans who expect COVID-19 to impact their Thanksgiving celebrations this year (only 15% expect the impact to be significant).

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