Thanksgiving Facts to Gobble Up…  from Turkey Pardons to Football…  Which Is the Older Tradition?


  • President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday on October 3rd, 1863.
  • President Harry Truman is often credited with being the first president to pardon a turkey; but that’s not quite true.  He was the first to receive a ceremonial turkey from the National Turkey Federation – and he had it for dinner.
  • John F. Kennedy was the first to let a Thanksgiving turkey go, followed by Richard Nixon who sent his turkey to a petting zoo.  George H.W. Bush was the president who formalized the turkey pardoning tradition in 1989.  The average number of calories consumed on Thanksgiving is 4,500.
  • The tradition of football on Thanksgiving began in 1876 with a game between Yale and Princeton.  The first NFL games were played on Thanksgiving in 1920.  That’s over 100 years, right there!
Football center ready to snap ball

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