Can you Guess Which Thanksgiving Statements are Fact or Myth?

Sarah Crozer

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About This Quiz

Thanksgiving is around the corner! You celebrate this holiday, but do you really know the deep history behind Thanksgiving day? Test yourself on whether each statement is a fact or myth with this quiz!

The Pilgrims' desired destination was Massachusetts.

The Pilgrims originally set out for Virginia. The Mayflower went off course and they ended up in Massachusetts.

Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a holiday.

He declared it during the Civil War. He did it the same day as he ordered troops to march against the Sioux.

The Native Americans introduced cranberries to the Pilgrims.

The Wampanoag had many uses for cranberries. They used it for everything from cooking and fabric dyes, to natural medicine.

The Pilgrim settlers helped the Native Americans survive.

It was the other way around. The Pilgrims were in very weak shape the first winter upon arrival. The Native Americans showed them which crops to plant, introducing them to corn and other mainstay foods.

Thanksgiving has always been celebrated on the same day.

Thanksgiving was celebrated on many different dates over time. It varied by states until Lincoln declared a special date for it. Thanksgiving is now always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Thanksgiving is relative to war.

In 1637 members of Pequot Tribe gathered for an annual festival. In the early morning, the tribe members were surrounded by mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.  Those who came out were shot to death while women and children inside, were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared "A Day Of Thanksgiving" because of the “victory.”

The Mayflower was the boat that took the pilgrims to Plymouth rock.

The Mayflower was the boat that took the pilgrims to Plymouth rock. They spent a very harsh 66 days on board in grueling temperatures and conditions.

The traditional Thanksgiving meal is based on popular English dishes.

The Traditional meal is actually based on fall harvests. New England fall harvests to be exact. Consisting of turkey cranberries, pumpkin and root vegetables, which were available locally.

In the 1900's sports were incorporated into this holiday tradition.

Many Americans now watch football every Thanksgiving. The Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving day in 1934 which was broadcasted on 94 stations nationwide! Since then, the Lions play every Thanksgiving.

The name of the Native American the pilgrims first encountered was named, Squanto.

The Pilgrims were burdened with malnutrition and illness. He taught them a multitude of tricks including maple extraction and which poisonous plants to avoid. He was the primary reason they survived.

The Pilgrims were always credited for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Pilgrims were not credited for the holiday until about 1900. Interest increased regarding the 1621 harvest celebration! By the 20th century, the Pilgrims were tied to the holiday and were used to teach children about American freedom.

Congress proclaimed Thanksgiving a national Holiday before Abraham Lincoln.

The Continental Congress proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving in 1777. It was suggested, “that servile labor and such recreations may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment and should be omitted on so solemn an occasion.” The custom fell out of use by 1815. Then Lincoln brought it back.

Lincoln had no influence in making Thanksgiving a holiday.

A famous and established writer named Sarah Hale asked President Lincoln to declare it in 1863, and he took her advice. She was the writer responsible for "Mary Had A Little Lamb!"

The Pilgrims came from England.

Originally, English explorers sailed home to England with a ship full of Native Americans sent for slavery.  By the time the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay they found only one living Native American(due to smallpox), a man named Squanto who knew their language, and taught them to grow food.

A current Thanksgiving tradition is a very large parade in New York City.

The parade now features very large hot air balloons. However, the original parade included live animals from the popular, Central Park Zoo.

The day after Thanksgiving is nationally recognized as a day people donate to charities.

The day after Thanksgiving is now known as "Black Friday." Leave it to retail and department stores to piggyback on a holiday geared towards giving! Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving shows record sales of Christmas decor.

On the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving, there are record sales of liquor! Everyone stocks up on liquor and food before the holiday, so they can spend quality time at home with their family and loved ones.

Some passengers of the Mayflower were "Saints."

Of the estimated 100 passengers, nearly 40 were Protestant Separatists (they called themselves “Saints”) They hoped to establish a new church in the New World, and were aiming for the state of Virginia where they could establish religious freedom.

Pumpkin pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert.

Pumpkin Pie is a very common dessert served on Thanksgiving. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured just over 12 feet long. llinois, California, Pennsylvania, and New York are the major states to grow pumpkins.  These states produced about 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkin.

Thanksgiving lasted one day and night.

Thanksgiving lasted three days. The Plymouth Pilgrims dined with the Wampanoag Indians for the first Thanksgiving. After the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a large feast and invited a group of the colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief.

Almost all Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving.

About 90% eat turkey on Thanksgiving. In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the celebrations.

Traditionally, the Pilgrim's were known to eat Turkey as a main dish on thanksgiving.

The only thing they were known to eat in similarity was corn. They most likely did not eat turkey, but instead probably ate cod, bass, and other types of fowl.

The president partook in Thanksgiving feast with the Pilgrims.

Native Americans did. The Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1621 and nearly starved to death. They were taught to farm by locals, and by the time of the first harvest they all took part in a large feast and gave thanks!

It took passengers a month to arrive in Cape Cod.

It took the Pilgrims 66 days on the Mayflower to arrive in Massachusetts. It was said to have about 100 people on board. The conditions were extremely rough!

The Mayflower was the only ship set to carry Pilgrims.

There were two ships originally! In 1620, the Pilgrims left England with two ships, the Speedwell and the Mayflower. When the leaky Speedwell had to turn back, some of the Speedwell’s passengers boarded the Mayflower, making it way more crowded.

The President participates in the "Turkey Pardon" ceremony.

Each president pardons a turkey in the famous “Turkey Pardon” ceremony! He receives a turkey and “pardons” it, allowing it to live in peace the rest of its life instead of being killed for food!

There is a turkey bone known to bring good luck.

The Wishbone is said to give people good luck when broken. Once it is dried out, two people each take an end, make a wish, and pull. Whoever gets the longer portion, gets their wish.

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with loved ones.

Thanksgiving is one of the most popular times to travel. It is a holiday dedicated to spending time with those you love most and to give thanks.  Lincoln suggested Americans express gratitude for the happy end to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution!

Massachusetts was the first state to adopt Thanksgiving officially.

It is celebrated thanks to President Lincoln and his influences. At one point, each state celebrated Thanksgiving on a different day. In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday.

Another name for the Pilgrims was the Separatists.

The Virginia Company gave them permission to establish a settlement, or “plantation,” on the East Coast between 38 and 41 degrees north latitude aka in Virginia. The King of England gave them permission to leave the Church of England, “provided they carried themselves peaceably.” So they set off!

Turkey has a component that makes people sleepy.

Turkey is said to contain L-Tryptophan, which induces drowsiness. Science has proven however, that many meats contain the same subtle amount of L-tryptophan. That being said, it is likely that stuffing your self with food and indulging in extra wine, may also be the culprit!

The first Thanksgiving was said to be in 1777.

The Pilgrims came to the US in the 1600's! Historians believe that only five women were present. It was the first year they were settling and came with many difficulties.

An author is the reason the holiday is celebrated today.

Sarah Josepha Hale, an editor and author, petitioned for a national Thanksgiving holiday for close to 40 years! She believed that "Thanksgiving, like the Fourth of July, should be considered a national festival and observed by all our people." Abraham Lincoln took her advice, and voila!

A turkey was almost the official bird of the United States.

If Ben Franklin had his way, it would have been! In a letter, Franklin referred to the turkey saying, "I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country! The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America." The iconic man wanted a bird to represent the roots of America.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in other countries.

In the US, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, but in Canada, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October! Thanksgiving was declared a holiday in their country by the Canadian Parliament in 1879.

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