In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims — early settlers of Plymouth Colony — held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. Many regard this event as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag Indians in attendance played a key role. Historians have recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America. These include the British colonists in Virginia as early as 1619.
The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday 153 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 Day should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.
Here are some quick facts
The number of occupied housing units across the nation in the second quarter of 2016 — potential stops for Thanksgiving dinner.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership
The number of multigenerational households in the United States in 2015. It is possible these households, consisting of three or more generations, will have to purchase large quantities of food to accommodate all the family members sitting around the table for the holiday feast, even if there are no guests.
Source: 2015 American Community Survey, Table B11017
The number of places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey Creek village, La., had 444 residents in 2015, followed by Turkey city, Texas (396); Turkey Creek census designated place (CDP), Ariz. (351); and Turkey town, N.C. (296). There are also 11 townships in the United States with “Turkey” in the name. (Please note that the Turkey Creek CDP, Ariz., population total pertains to the 2010-2014 American Community Survey and is not statistically different from the population estimates of the other three places.)
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 Population Estimates