In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation's first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag, the Indians in attendance, also played a lead role. Historians have recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Virginia in 1619.
The legacy of thanks and the traditional feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday 150 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 should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.
Each year on the fourth Thursday of November, families all across the country come together to share in a warm, thoughtfully prepared meal. Not only does Thanksgiving have a historical significance, the date also marks the kick off of the holiday shopping season.
According to the United States Department of Agricultural Services, a total of 51 million of the 248 million turkeys raised will be consumed across the country this year, with the U.S. as a whole spending a total of $2.4 billion on Thanksgiving dinner foods. The average cost per pound of turkey is just over a dollar at $1.15.
Although North Carolina stands as one of the top five turkey producing states in the nation, the average household's Thanksgiving turkey will have traveled 1,500 miles before finding its final resting place on the dinner plate.
On average, each household will spend about $54.18 for their Thanksgiving feast, and with the weekend following Thanksgiving being the first shopping weekend for the holidays, the average household will spend $302 before the weekend is finished.
Thanksgiving often serves as a reason to spend with our loved ones, which will result in 39 million families traveling for Thanksgiving this year.
In addition to shopping, one of the great traditions of the Thanksgiving holiday is the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. For the parade to get the massive floats off the ground each year, the parade is the second largest consumer of helium in the country, averaging about 300,000 cubic feet of helium to keep about 15 giant balloons afloat. The helium used in the parade is around the same volume as 2.2 million gallons of milk.
Families usually overindulge during the Thanksgiving meal, resulting in the consumption of about 4,500 calories. Just to burn the extra calories garnered through snacking, dessert, drinks, and the main event, the average person would need to walk for five hours.
Compiled by staff writer Brittney Parker.