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November 28, 2019
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In Celebration of Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving remains a pivotal event in the United States and Canada, with celebrations taking place across the globe for those who celebrate all things’ Americana’.

Coined during the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln to celebrate the harvest and other blessings of the past year, any typical Thanksgiving consists of a traditional meal – including turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving – more important than Christmas?

Offering all the family arguments of Christmas, but without the impending financial doom brought on by Santa Claus and his corporate buddies, Thanksgiving is more about family than gifts; brought on by the compassion shown towards settlers during tough times.

Americans generally believe that their Thanksgiving has been modelled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people. The national holiday is particularly rich in legend and symbolism and is – arguably – more critical to most Americans than Christmas.

Traffic levels would certainly back this mantra up. Travel numbers across North America surge to their highest amounts of the year as people vacate to be with their family.

More than 54 million people traverse 50 miles or more according to the AAA. At the airports, a further 30.6 million passengers take to the skies via US airlines for a trip back home.

This can lead to quite a backlog on the roads and in the terminal. Around 1900 flights are delayed each day on the run up to Thanksgiving, and roads are often gridlocked.


The very first Thanksgiving was a three-day celebration on very different terms to the modern one-day affair. During November 1621, the settlers’ first corn harvest proved wholeheartedly successful, with an invitation extended to the Plymouth-colonists’ Native American allies to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Members of the Wampanoag tribe came bearing food to share, and, as they joined the pilgrims, the revellers decided to extend the affair. However, it didn’t transform into a vast yearly event until hundreds of years later.

Abraham Lincoln

Thanksgiving, as it is currently known and celebrated, was recognised after President Abraham Lincoln received persistent lobbying from Sarah Josepha Hale; the author behind ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’.

Original concerns revolved around breaking the First Amendment – a motion established to prevent the Government from making laws which regulate an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech. Yet, after careful persuasion, Lincoln declared a state holiday.

Thanksgiving parade mishaps

The first parade took place in New York City back in 1924, with over 250,000 people in attendance. Floats, professional musicians, and animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo marked the first in a long tradition.

Not that N.Y.C.’s Thanksgiving parades have been devoid of mishaps. Perhaps the funniest event occurred in 1957, where the indented hat of a Popeye the Sailor balloon filled with rainwater and strayed from its course, tipping forward to dump freezing fluid on an unlucky group of nearby spectators.

So much turkey…

Somewhere around 46 million turkeys are cooked for Thanksgiving each year. Only 12% of households don’t eat meat on the big day.

Perhaps one of the lesser-known traditions is the ‘Turkey Trots’. This activity involves dressing as a turkey for a charity foot race. The Guinness World Record found a total of 661 feathered people taking part  in 2011.

There are four places in the U.S. A named Turkey, with the U.S. Census identifying four with the name of Cranberry, and a total of 34 dubbed Plymouth. The heritage here is serious!

T.V. Dinners

The very first T.V. dinners were a mixture of Thanksgiving preparation and pure accident. In 1953, a Swanson employee inadvertently ordered a large shipment of Thanksgiving turkey – some 260 tonnes, to be exact. To prevent wastage, Gerry Thomas took inspiration from the prepared foods served on first-class airline flights.

Gerry filled 5000 aluminium trays with the meat – alongside cornbread dressing, gravy, peas, and sweet potatoes. Naturally, being the good ol’ U.S.A., the quick-meal fix became a national institution.

For information on how the American Thanksgiving celebration affects UK sales, get in touch with our data team.


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