5 Surprising Thanksgiving Facts

5 Surprising Thanksgiving Facts

Here are 5 facts about Thanksgiving that just might surprise you.

Feast of Fasting?

A little known fact is that in 1623, the Thanksgiving feast included fasting and prayer for God’s provision.  It is hard to imagine a fast during Thanksgiving today but giving thanks and fasting were common practice in pre-Colonial America.  It was not until the 1660’s that the Thanksgiving feast became an annual event.  Prior to that, it was a feast of thanksgiving to God and not necessarily a large meal.

Thanksgiving on Various Dates

For most of the early Americans, Thanksgiving was observed on dates that the different states individually felt was best for them.   It was not until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln, under the influence of Sarah Josepha Hale, unified the nation in observing Thanksgiving on the final Thursday of each November.

Thanksgiving Moved for Christmas Shopping?

Believe it or not, it was in 1939 when President Roosevelt, trying to move the nation further out of the Depression, moved Thanksgiving back to the fourth Thursday of November instead of the last Thursday in November as a way to extend the Christmas shopping season.  Congress finally  passed this as law on December 26th, 1941.

Turkey Favorites

Turkey is the most popular of all holiday meat entrees, being served primarily at Thanksgiving but also at Christmas.  This despite the fact that there is no historical evidence that when the first pilgrims dined, they had no cranberries or pumpkin pies as these traditions came a few hundred years later.  It mattered little that Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef.

A Record Turkey

Can you imagine a turkey weighing 86 pounds?  That’s the size of a large dog.  Talk about having leftovers for a while.  Leg anyone?


I tricked my combined 3rd and 4th grade Sunday school students once by asking them, “Is Thanksgiving in the Bible?”  They said “No!”  I told them that it actually is but it wasn’t a holiday.  Giving thanks is giving an offering to God.  One of the offerings that were voluntary was that which was called the Peace Offering.  This is found in all of Leviticus chapter 3 and in Leviticus 7:11-34.  This was a freewill offering of thanksgiving to God for all He has done.  This was one of the few offerings that was not commanded but was to come from the heart of the worshipper.  The New Testament and Old both mention giving thanks to God.   Psalm 106:1 declares “Praise you the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endures forever.”  Psalms 140:1 says “Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto Your name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence” and Psalms 92:1 tells us that “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Your name, O most High.”  The Apostle Paul concurs, writing “And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).

May God richly bless you,

Pastor Jack Wellman



Image source: CC by Stormz

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