Thanksgiving fun facts: How the holiday has changed through the years

Erin Johnson, MakeItGrateful.com

The year is 1919.  Many families are spending their first Thanksgiving dinner together since World War I began.  It’s a time of celebration, hope, and defined gender roles. Oh, how things have changed! (Except for the menu. The menu hasn’t really changed.) Here’s a look at Thanksgiving over the past 100 years.

THE COOKS

The first Thanksgiving meal was prepared 100% by women (only four of them, to be exact). Today, the duties are split a little more evenly with 84% of men helping with the meal in some way, and 42% of men cooking the actual turkey. 

THE DRINKS

The prohibition era was just getting started in 1919, which surprisingly (or not!), birthed some delicious cocktails that Americans still consume on the regular. Highballs, French 75s, Sidecars … the list goes on. People back then were more apt to consume these cocktails in secret, though — not around the Thanksgiving table.

Fast-forward 100 years, and we’re drinking everything at the Thanksgiving table: apple cider mimosas, pumpkin pie martinis, and wine. Lots of wine.

More: Wine taste test: Is $50 wine really better than $5 wine?

FRIENDSGIVING

It’s hard to pin down exactly when Friendsgiving became a thing. Some say it began in 2008 when the economy took a nosedive, and millenials who had moved to urban areas could no longer afford plane tickets back to their hometowns. 

Others argue that the TV show Friends created Friendsgiving.  The term was coined by Urban Dictionary in 2009, so it’s been a thing for at least a decade, and it doesn’t necessarily take place on Thanksgiving Thursday. 

THE MENU

Although 88% of Americans consume turkey on Thanksgiving Day, the first Thanksgiving in 1621 most likely featured deer or fowl as the main dish.  Writer Sarah Josepha Hale (author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”) can take most of the credit for turkey’s Thanksgiving takeover.  She campaigned heavily for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday and even included an entire chapter on turkey as the main dish in her book “Northwood: A Tale of New England” in 1827.

As shown in this menu from 1919, the meal remains similar in 2019: turkey, a cranberry dish, mashed potatoes, creamed cauliflower (a trendy replacement for mashed potatoes), pumpkin pie … not a lot has changed.

More: Cheesy cauliflower mashed potatoes: Get the recipe

TURKEY TROTS

Thanksgiving may be a huge day for food consumption, but it’s also the most popular day of the year to run in a race. Thanksgiving 5Ks — “Turkey trots” — have been around since 1896, when the Buffalo YMCA hosted their first holiday 8K. These days, more than 14,000 runners will run in more than 1,000 turkey trots all over America.

SHOPPING ON THANKSGIVING DAY

Although the dismal origins of Black Friday go back to 1869, only in the last decade have stores begun to open for shopping on Thanksgiving Day — amidst massive backlash from consumers and employees.  

Whatever your feelings are toward shopping on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday, most Americans can get behind Small Business Saturday. American Express came up with the idea in 2010 to encourage spending in local shops during the holiday weekend.

BLACK[OUT] WEDNESDAY, AKA THANKSGIVING EVE DRINKING

We are definitely not in the prohibition era anymore. Given that many Americans don’t work on Thanksgiving Day and a fair amount of college students come home for the holiday, the night before Thanksgiving has become a night of binge drinking for many. In 2006, the term Black Wednesday (aka Blackout Wednesday or Thanksgiving Eve) was coined; since then, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recognizes it as the deadliest holiday of the year because of an increased number of drunk drivers on the road. MADD even partnered with Uber last year to offer free rides on Thanksgiving Eve in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

FOOTBALL

The first official Thanksgiving NFL game took place between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears in 1934, but playing football on this particular holiday can be traced back to 1869.  Since 2006, this day has turned into a triple-game day with more than 30 million viewers tuning in post-feast.

This year, no matter who you choose to celebrate with (family or friends), what you choose to do (run a race or go shopping), or what you choose to eat (probably turkey), stay safe and enjoy this moment in history.

Now, more and more people are growing their own herbs and vegetables for homemade dinners. Learn how you can do it in the video below.

This article originally appeared on Grateful: Thanksgiving facts: How the holiday has evolved through the years