Turkey Day Tidbits
Well, I have managed to pull away from my turkey, mash potatoes, and pumpkin pie to scribble down some Cliff Clavin-like trivia as it relates to Thanksgiving.
Did you know?
- Origin of Thanksgiving: The genesis of Thanksgiving dates back to the fall of 1621 when only half of the pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower survived. The survivors were thankful to be alive and therefore decided to have a thanksgiving feast. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving before Franklin Roosevelt (in office from 1933-1945) changed it to the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage holiday shopping (in case there was a fifth Thursday). As you can see, our infatuation with consumer spending existed all the way back to the first half of last century.
- Turkey Chasing Trivia: For a plump delicious item consumed with gravy from my plate at a leisurely pace, I was surprised to discover wild turkeys can run up to 20 miles per hour and burst into flight speeds of approximately 50-55 miles per hour in a matter of seconds. Glad my fork and knife can contain this fast fowl from escaping its destiny into my belly.
- Turkey Eating Trivia: The number of turkeys raised in the U.S. is estimated at 250 million in 2009, down about 8% from the $4.5 billion and 7.9 billion pounds produced in 2008. Minnesota, the “Gopher State,” is expected to be the top turkey producing state, registering in at 45.5 million gobblers. The annual turkey consumption of an American averaged 13.8 pounds in 2007 – with a healthy portion of that consumed during the Thanksgiving holiday period.
- Other Fixins: You can’t have Thanksgiving turkey without cranberries, which explains the 709 million pounds of production expected in 2009 (more than half coming from Wisconsin). Cranberries are considered one of three native fruits to North America (the others are Concord grapes and blueberries). There were about 3 billion pounds of sweet potatoes and pumpkins produced in 2008 (North Carolina and Illinois were the leading producers, respectively.).
- Wishbone History: Back in the days of the Etruscans (about 1200 BC–550 BC), chickens were used for fortune-telling and the dried wishbones of the dead fowl were stroked for good luck. The tradition evolved through Roman times and the wishbone practice was modified to include the breaking of the bone. Eventually the custom made it to England, and the English took it to the New World.
- Holiday Football: Ever since the league was created, the National Football League (NFL) has played games on Thanksgiving. The Detroit Lions have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Day since 1934, with the exception of World War II (1939–1944).
More than all the trivia, I enjoy this holiday as a time for contemplation. The daily rat race hits us all to some degree and can distort our views of reality. On days like today, it’s nice to suppress the craziness (albeit temporarily) to reflect on those issues important to us, thereby reshaping our lives back into proper perspective.
And oh yeah, squeezing in some football on the boob-tube and stuffing my face with pie and ice cream makes it all the more enjoyable.
A happy and healthy Thanksgiving to all,
Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®
Plan. Invest. Prosper.
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