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2013 Thanksgiving Fun Facts

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation's first Thanksgiving.

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest and give thanks. Patch file photo
In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest and give thanks. Patch file photo

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation's first Thanksgiving.

The Wampanoag, the Indians in attendance, also played a lead role.

Historians have recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Virginia in 1619.

The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday 150 years ago (Oct. 3, 1863) when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving.

Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.


Fun facts:


  • 6,500—Number of members of the Wampanoag American Indian tribal grouping, as of 2010, roughly half of whom reside in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag, the American Indians in attendance, played a lead role in this historic encounter, and they had been essential to the survival of the colonists during the newcomers' first year. The Wampanoag are a people with a sophisticated society who have occupied the region for thousands of years. They have their own government, their own religious and philosophical beliefs, their own knowledge system, and their own culture. They are also a people for whom giving thanks was a part of daily life.
  • 242 million—The number of turkeys forecasted to be raised in the United States in 2013. That is down 5 percent from the number raised during 2012.
  • 45 million—The forecast for the number of turkeys Minnesota will raise in 2013. The Gopher State was tops in turkey production, followed by North Carolina (35 million), Arkansas (29 million), Indiana (17 million), Missouri (17 million), and Virginia (16 million).
  • $23.1 million—The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys for 2012, with 99.8 percent of them coming from Canada. When it comes to sweet potatoes, the Dominican Republic was the source of 51.1 percent ($4.6 million) of total imports ($9.1 million). The United States ran a $17.6 million trade deficit in live turkeys during the period but had a surplus of $71.2 million in sweet potatoes.
  • 768 million pounds—The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2012. Wisconsin was estimated to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 450 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (estimated at 210 million). New Jersey, Oregon and Washington were also estimated to have substantial production, ranging from 14 to 54 million pounds.
  • 2.6 billion pounds—The total weight of sweet potatoes, another popular Thanksgiving side dish, produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2012. North Carolina (1.2 billion pounds) produced more sweet potatoes than any other state, followed by California, Mississippi and Louisiana.

—Submitted by the U.S. Census Bureau


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