While you’re making final dinner head counts, writing out your grocery list, and planning that marathon supermarket trip to fill your cart with all the basics this holiday season, did you ever stop to wonder about the numbers behind Thanksgiving? What was it like at the first Thanksgiving? Whether your questions are related to the very first Thanksgiving or today’s modern holiday, this blog has got your curiosities covered.

Here’s a few facts about the first Thanksgiving:

  • It was a 3-day harvest feast held by the founders of the Plymouth colony in 1621.
  • It was attended by 53 colonists and 90 Wampanoag people.
  • Governor William Bradford sent 4 men to hunt birds for the feast, and the Wampanoag contributed 5 deer.
  • Other food they probably had: onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots, pumpkin, cornmeal, blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries, cranberries and perhaps peas.
  • Culinary historians believe that much of the Thanksgiving meal consisted of seafood. Mussels were abundant in New England and could be easily harvested. Lobster, bass, clams, and oysters might also have been a part of their feast.

Today on Thanksgiving you will find:

  • Americans eat and average of 13.3 pounds of turkey per year.
  • Close to 46 million turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving, compared to 22 million at Christmas and 19 million at Easter.
  • Nearly 88% of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving.
  • Today you can find these items at the table on Thanksgiving Day: yams/sweet potatoes, stuffing, corn, potatoes, beans, cranberry sauce, apple and pumpkin pie.

Today you will also find two traditions that may Americans look forward to: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Black Friday.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1924 by Macy’s employee’s. The parade once featured live animals such as camels, goats, donkeys, lions, elephants, bears, and tigers. Giant helium balloons replaced the menagerie in 1927.  Blowing up the parade’s 15 large balloons takes nearly 300,000 cubic feet of helium. That’s the volume of 3.4 Olympic-sized swimming pools.


Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when retailers offer bargains on their merchandise.  Many people have this day off of work due to Thanksgiving and it is the official start to the Christmas shopping season. In 2020, about 186 million Americans shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. That was actually a drop from 2019’s record-high of 189.6 million. In 2020, online shopping surged 22% according to data from Adobe Analytics, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The average amount spent on shopping on Black Friday in 2020 by Millennials was $851.79 on average. Generation X and Z were the second and third-biggest spenders.


Thanksgiving Infographic

Britannica Academic






24/7 Librarian