Thanksgiving Facts for Kids

Did you know that Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the United States? It’s a day when family and friends get together to enjoy a big feast! Here are some fun facts about Thanksgiving for kids.


The First Thanksgiving

When most kids think of Thanksgiving, they probably think of turkey, sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. But the first Thanksgiving celebration actually has a long and interesting history. The first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. The Pilgrims had recently arrived in America, and the Wampanoag had helped them to survive their first winter. To celebrate their good fortune, the two groups decided to have a feast. They gathered together wild turkeys, lobsters, pumpkins, and maize, and they enjoyed a three-day feast. Since then, Thanksgiving has been celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a time for families to come together, give thanks for their blessings, and enjoy a delicious meal.

The Pilgrim Leaders

The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, and it is believed that around 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims attended. The Pilgrim leaders who helped make the first Thanksgiving possible were Governor William Bradford and Captain Myles Standish. Governor Bradford was in charge of the colony, and he made the decision to invite the Wampanoag Indians to the feast. Captain Standish was a military leader, and he helped to protect the colony from attacks. Both men were important in making the first Thanksgiving possible, and their efforts are still remembered today.

The Pilgrims came to America on the Mayflower

The Mayflower was a ship that sailed from England to America in 1620. It was carrying a group of Pilgrims who were seeking religious freedom. The Pilgrims had been persecuted in England, and they wanted to start a new life in America. The voyage was difficult, and the ship almost sank on several occasions. But the Pilgrims eventually arrived in America, thanks to the help of the Wampanoag Indians.

The Wampanoag Indians Helped the Pilgrims

The Wampanoag Indians were the first people to help the pilgrims when they arrived in America. The Wampanoag Indians showed the Pilgrims how to grow crops, catch fish, and hunt deer. They also taught the Pilgrims how to celebrate Thanksgiving. Without the help of the Wampanoag Indians, the Pilgrims would have never survived their first winter in America.

Turkey Was Not Even on the Menu at the First Thanksgiving

The first thanksgiving feast was a three-day event, and it featured a variety of foods including duck, lobsters, pumpkins, cranberries, and maize. However, turkey was not even on the menu!

Death after Thanksgiving

After the first Thanksgiving, many early settlers died from disease. The Pilgrims had never seen diseases like smallpox before, and they didn’t know how to treat them. As a result, over half of the Pilgrims died in the winter of 1621.

The Wampanoag Indians Helped the Pilgrims Again

Despite losing so many people, the Pilgrims continued to celebrate Thanksgiving every year. The Wampanoag Indians helped them to survive, and the two groups continued to celebrate together. Thanks to the help of the Wampanoag Indians, the Pilgrims were able to keep their traditions alive. In the spring, the Pilgrims planted crops. They had a good harvest thanks to Squanto, a Native American who taught them how to farm.

President Abraham Lincoln Made Thanksgiving a National Holiday

President Lincoln said that Thanksgiving should be a holiday for everyone in the United States on October 3, 1863.

Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who wrote the classic song “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” convinced Lincoln to make the day of Thanksgiving an official holiday after writing letters for 17 years.

The Presidents Now Get Turkeys as a Gift to Celebrate Thanksgiving

Each year, the President of the United States gets a turkey as a gift to celebrate Thanksgiving. The tradition began in 1947, when President Truman received a live turkey from the National Turkey Federation. then, every president has received at least one turkey as a gift.

Sometimes the presidents have eaten the turkeys, but other times they have given them away to charity or sent them to petting zoos.

The turkeys are usually quite large, and they can weigh up to 40 pounds. National Turkey Federation began giving turkeys as gifts to presidents in 1947 because it wanted to promote its industry. The federation thought that if people saw how big and impressive turkeys could be, they would want to eat more of them. And sure enough, each year more and more Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving.

Football Games and Thanksgiving

The NFL has been playing professional American football on Thanksgiving since 1920. There are records that show that “professional” football was played on Thanksgiving even earlier than that, as early as 1892. The Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys always play on this most popular holiday. Everyone loves to eat that big meal and then take a nap on that last Thursday of November.

Thanksgiving Is a Time for Family Gatherings

Thanksgiving is a time for families to come together and celebrate their blessings. It is a time for people to enjoy good food and company. Many families travel long distances to be together on Thanksgiving day.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Did you know that in 1924 the parade started out as a walking zoo from the animals in the New York City Central Park Zoo? Then they switched the animals to the huge balloons that you see today. Of course, one of the Thanksgiving traditions is to have Santa Clause with his jingle bells at the end of the parade.

Fun Thanksgiving Facts for Kids – Thanksgiving Dinner By The Numbers

Today, people all over the United States celebrate Thanksgiving with a big meal. Turkey is still the main dish! Americans take in 3,000 to 4,500 calories at their Thanksgiving celebrations. Wow! That is a big plate of food.

How many turkeys do you think we eat in America on Thanksgiving? We eat 46 million turkeys! And then for dessert…50 million pumpkin pies! I guess we eat more dessert than the dinner!

Thanksgiving is a time-honored tradition in the United States, and it has been celebrated for centuries. The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to create family traditions and celebrate their blessings. In our house, last year we went to the Thanksgiving Day Parade and shopped on Black Friday. There are many interesting facts about Thanksgiving that kids will enjoy learning.


Check out these fun facts for kids here and browse all the other topics at the bottom of the post.

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