Bentley, Logan, and Sydney
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. Historians have also 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 feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday in 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. Here is Thanksgiving by the numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau:
1621: The year the Pilgrims in Plymouth held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving.
1619: The year British colonists in Virginia staged recorded ceremonies of thanks.
1863: President Abraham Lincoln proclaims the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving.
1939: President Franklin D. Roosevelt clarifies that Thanksgiving will be the fourth Thursday of the month.
114.7: million Number of households across the nation – all potential gathering places for people to celebrate the holiday.
4: Number of places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey Creek, Louisiana., was the most populous in 2011, with 440 residents. There are also 11 townships around the country with Turkey in their names.
9: Number of places and townships in the United States that are named Cranberry or some spelling variation of the acidic red berry (e.g., Cranbury, New Jersey), a popular side dish at Thanksgiving.
37: Number of places and townships in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. Plymouth, Minnesota, is the most populous, with 71,561 residents in 2011; Plymouth, Massachusetts, had 56,767. There is just one township in the United States named Pilgrim, in Missouri.
64,380: The number of grocery stores in the United States in 2010.
4,030: The number of baked goods stores in the United States in 2010.
2,979: The number of fruit and vegetable markets in the United States in 2010.
$12.1 million: The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys from January through July of 2012, with 99.8% of them coming from Canada.
768 million pounds: The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2012. Wisconsin is estimated to lead all states in producing cranberries, with 450 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (estimated at 210 million).
2.7 billion pounds: The total weight of sweet potatoes – another popular Thanksgiving side dish – produced by major sweet potato growing states in 2011. North Carolina (1.3 billion pounds) produced the most.
1.1 billion pounds: Total production of pumpkins in the major pumpkin-producing states in 2011. Illinois led the country with an estimated 520 million pounds.
2.27 billion bushels: The forecasted total volume of wheat – the essential ingredient of bread, rolls and pie crust — produced in the United States in 2012. Kansas, Montana and North Dakota accounted for an estimated 40% of the nation’s wheat production.
672,370 tons: The 2012 contracted production of snap (green) beans in the United States. Of this total, Wisconsin led all states (309,010 tons).
254 million: The number of turkeys expected to be raised in the United States in 2012. Minnesota was tops in turkey production with 46 million.