Thanksgiving by the numbers

STAMFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 24: Central American immigrants and their families pray before Thanksgiving dinner on November 24, 2016 in Stamford, Connecticut. Family and friends, some of them U.S. citizens, others on work visas and some undocumented immigrants came together in an apartment to celebrate the American holiday with turkey and Latin American dishes. They expressed concern with the results of the U.S. Presidential election of president-elect Donald Trump, some saying their U.S.-born children fear the possibilty their parents will be deported after Trump's inauguration. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Central American immigrants and their families pray before Thanksgiving dinner on November 24, 2016 in Stamford, Connecticut. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 2:19 PM PT – Thursday, November 24, 2022

Americans across the country are sitting down for one of the most beloved holidays of the year, Thanksgiving. But how did this tradition start?

While the exact year of the first Thanksgiving feast has been debated for many years, various historians have contended that the holiday can be traced back to the Pilgrims’ first harvest back in 1621. The event, which lasted three days, was reportedly attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims in Plymouth.

The tradition continued with then leader of the revolutionary forces, George Washington, celebrating Thanksgiving in 1777 following the defeat of the British at the Battle of Saratoga. Later, in the midst of a bloody Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared the day a national holiday in 1863. It has been celebrated every year since.

The Thanksgiving holiday comes with a lot traveling. According to AAA, nearly 55 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving.

According to the Farm Bureau’s annual survey, this Thanksgiving will be the most expensive in the last 37 years. The average Thanksgiving dinner will cost 20% more compared than last years.

On average, a 16 pound turkey is $5 more than last year. Thanksgiving favorites, such as stuffing, are up 69 percent compared to a year ago. Despite the hit to Americans wallets, studies show that Americans eat more food on turkey day than any other day of the year with an average 4,500 calories consumed.

While many Americans sit down for turkey, they’re not as fond of taking part in another infamous Thanksgiving past-time, talking politics. According to wallet hub, nearly 66% of Americans are opposed to talking politics at the dinner table.

Of course, many also choose to give back on Thanksgiving. Every year, millions of pounds of food are given to the Salvation Army and to other charities while hundreds of millions of dollars are donated on Giving Tuesday.

Thousands of Americans take part in Turkey Trot events in cities across the United States benefiting charitable organizations or perhaps just to simply to make room for turkey and pie.