Thanksgiving brings millions of Americans together each year for dining and merriment.

As families and friends prepare for the holiday, here are 12 Thanksgiving facts that can be discussed around the dinner table.

1621, the “first Thanksgiving” – The Mayflower pilgrims who founded the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts shared a historic autumn harvest feast with the Native American Wampanoag tribe in 1621, and the feast is often referred to as the first Thanksgiving celebration in America, according to History.com, the History Channel’s digital website.

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1870, Thanksgiving becomes a national holiday – Thanksgiving became an official national holiday in 1870 after Congress passed legislation establishing it as so, the U.S. House of Representatives’ History, Art & Archives reports.

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth in 1621, paint from 1914. Private Collection. Artist Brownscombe, Jennie Augusta (1850-1936). 
(Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

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The fourth Thursday – On Dec. 26, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill that moved national Thanksgiving observances to the fourth Thursday of November, according to the Library of Congress. The law went into effect the following year.

292.9 million Americans celebrate – Approximately 292.9 million Americans celebrated Thanksgiving with a meal-focused gathering, according to Finder.com, a personal finance comparison website.

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46 million turkeys eaten – The National Turkey Federation – an association that identifies itself as a “national advocate for America’s turkey industry” – estimates that approximately 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving each year.

Millions of American families celebrate Thanksgiving with a feast and turkey is usually the main course. 

Millions of American families celebrate Thanksgiving with a feast and turkey is usually the main course. 
(iStock)

Six states raise most of the country’s turkeys – Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri and Virginia are the six states that are top turkey producers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Approximately 69% of the nation’s turkeys are raised in the six states. 

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In 2022, the six states are projected to raise 145.1 million turkeys, according to the Census Bureau.

80 million pounds of cranberries consumed – Americans eat nearly 80 million pounds of cranberries during the week of Thanksgiving, according to National Geographic.

50 million pumpkin pies eaten – Approximately 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten throughout the month of November, according to Good Housekeeping, a consumer-focused lifestyle magazine.

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$64.05 for dinner – The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates that a “classic Thanksgiving feast for 10” will cost families an average of $64.05 in 2022.

A classic Thanksgiving dinner typically includes roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, rolls and pies

A classic Thanksgiving dinner typically includes roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, rolls and pies
(iStock)

3,000 calories – The Calorie Control Council (CCC) – an international food and beverage association focused on healthy eating and exercise – estimates that consumers eat about 3,000 calories during Thanksgiving dinner. High-calorie feasts are also eaten around Christmas and New Year’s, according to the CCC.

25 million parade viewers – About 25 million people tune in to watch Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade on TV, according to Playbill, an American monthly magazine for theatergoers.

A view of the 95th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 25, 2021, in New York City.

A view of the 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 25, 2021, in New York City.
(Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

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1989, the White House “turkey pardon” became official – While other presidents and political figures have pardoned turkeys in the past, the ceremony became an annual tradition in 1989 with President H.W. Bush’s administration, according to The White House Historical Association.

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