Think you know everything about the real story of Thanksgiving? See whether you've been taken in by any of these Thanksgiving myths.
Myth: All that tryptophan in turkey makes diners fall asleep after their Thanksgiving feasts.
Fact: Turkey does contain some tryptophan, which our bodies use to make serotonin, which can turn into melatonin, which triggers sleep -- but the turkey isn't the reason you're tired. Turkey doesn't contain nearly enough tryptophan to induce that much serotonin production (not to mention it's far from the only meat that contains tryptophan, and other meats generally aren't blamed for sleepiness). The more likely culprit for your post-Thanksgiving stupor is all those carbs and second helpings you're eating, according to Scientific American.
Myth: Pilgrims' clothes were black and white and covered with buckles.
Fact: The pilgrims may have worn only black and white when they dressed up, but they usually wore a variety of colors. Buckles weren't in style until the late 1600s, according to The History Channel.
Myth: The Pilgrims were trying to land in Virginia, but settled in Massachusetts by mistake.
Fact: The Mayflower was headed to New York's Hudson River region, which was a part of the Virginia Company's land at the time. Bad weather forced them farther north to Cape Cod, according to the History Channel.
Myth: Turkey was served at the first Thanksgiving, and that tradition continues today.
Fact: There were wild turkeys around when the Pilgrims had their feast, but it's more likely the centerpiece of the meal was venison. The modern Thanksgiving meal was popularized by Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the women's magazine Godey's Lady's Book in the mid-1800s.
Myth: President Abraham Lincoln started the tradition of pardoning a turkey every Thanksgiving.
Fact: There is a tale about Lincoln sparing a Christmas a turkey at his son's request, but it was President George H.W. Bush who first officially pardoned a turkey in 1989, according to The White House's official history on the subject. However, President Richard Nixon started a tradition of sending a turkey to a petting farm each year, and President John F. Kennedy also spared at least one turkey by sending it back to a farm.
Myth: People living on the American continent have celebrated Thanksgiving annually since 1621.
Fact: That first "Thanksgiving" was actually a harvest feast -- a true thanksgiving holiday would have been a religious celebration, according to The History Channel. There was another feast held in 1623, and individual states and the federal government declared Thanksgiving holidays on occasion in the nation's early history. A few states made Thanksgiving a yearly observance in the early 1800s, but it didn't become an annual federal holiday until Abraham Lincoln's time, according to the Washington Post.
Myth: Thanksgiving has always been on the fourth Thursday of November.
Fact: The Pilgrims' feast was a three-day festival that happened sometime between late September and early October. President Abraham Lincoln set the holiday as the last Thursday of November in 1863, and Congress approved President Franklin Roosevelt's desire to move it to the fourth Thursday of November in 1941, according to The History Channel.
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