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Time to Talk Turkey: Thanksgiving Day Facts

November 18, 1987|United Press International

It's late afternoon on Thanksgiving Day, the table is cluttered with the remnants of the feast, a few still-awake stalwarts are watching TV but most of us have our feet up somewhere with our eyes closed.

Another filling holiday, and especially filling was the turkey we savaged a few hours ago. Time to pay a few respects, so consider:

--The turkey got its name from the country of the same name. Known as a guinea fowl, it was imported to England by way of Turkey. The name stuck.

--Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey be named the national bird. To his dismay, the bald eagle was chosen instead.

--President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Day proclamation in 1789, but not all Presidents were thrilled with the idea. Thomas Jefferson, in fact, actively opposed the holiday during his two terms as President.

--About 71 million turkeys are consumed in the United States each year, with about 45 million of them gracing the table on Thanksgiving Day.

--The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1924.

--In 1969, the American astronauts may not have eaten pie in the sky but they did have turkey on the moon, making it the first Thanksgiving dinner held in space.

--The first Thanksgiving dinner in 1621 featured venison, duck, goose and eels but existing records indicate that turkey was not on the menu.

--Thanksgiving became an official holiday in 1863 following a movement led by magazine editor Sara Josepha Hale. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the day to be the last Thursday of November.

--Two disputes arose over the date of Thanksgiving, once when the last Thursday of November was the fifth one of the month, and in 1939 when President Franklin Roosevelt decided it should be the third Thursday to give store owners more time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It took a joint resolution in Congress to settle the matter in 1941.

--The Hebrew word for "big bird" is tukki.

Source: Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, Mo.

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