1 – Although Thanksgiving was celebrated throughout New England, Christmas festivities were often banned or at least discouraged until the mid-1800s. Ministers even preached anti-Christmas sermons condemning the holiday. (Okay, that’s really a Christmas fact–so sue me! Find out more about the lack of Christmas spirit in New England here.)
2 – New England’s early settlers also celebrated Fast Days, which were basically the opposite of Thanksgiving–instead of stuffing yourself with good food, you’d abstain from dining and meditate on your sins. Sounds like a real hoppin’ good time, doesn’t it? (You can learn about Fast Days here.)
3 – Until 1941, Thanksgiving was celebrated on different dates in different states. It was the governor of each state who would declare when Thanksgiving would occur. You can find an example of one of these proclamations online here.
4 -The Pilgrims probably did not eat cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie at the first Thanksgiving. Sugar was too expensive to sweeten cranberries and pumpkin pie, and white potatoes were not yet commonly eaten by either the English or the Wampanoag. (Go to the Plimoth Plantation Web site to find out more about what the Pilgrims did and didn’t eat.)
5 – Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880), who wrote the Thanksgiving poem “Over the River and Through the Wood,” was more famous during her lifetime for her work to abolish slavery and advocate for women’s rights. (Find out more about Lydia Maria Child here.)
For more fun facts about Thanksgiving, check out these Web sites:
Looking for some traditional New England Thanksgiving recipes? Check out Old Sturbridge Village’s Web site.