Thankful Thanksgiving traditions


Grayson Joslin, Editor

Thanksgiving is celebrated every fourth Thursday in November in the United States. The holiday is celebrated to give thanks to the loved ones in our lives and our families. From the first recorded celebrations of the holiday on the North American continent in the seventeenth century all the way to modern times, this holiday has carved out some thankful traditions.

Some Thanksgiving traditions date back to the “First Thanksgiving” celebrated by the Pilgrims and the Native Americans in 1621. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by a large meal, and this tradition has continued to this day. The first dinner, however, had different food options served from what modern Americans are accustomed to. Instead of turkey, pumpkin pie and cornbread to eat, the Pilgrims ate lobster, squash, clams and even passenger pigeons.

Parades have become a recognizable part of Thanksgiving celebrations for the past century. The most famous of these is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, held in New York City since the 1920’s. More than 44 million people watch the parade every Thanksgiving morning as the parade makes its way down Manhattan to Macy’s flagship store on West 34th Street. The Macy’s parade isn’t the only one, nor is it the oldest. The oldest Thanksgiving parade is Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Philadelphia parade has been held annually since 1920, and with the 100th iteration happening this year. Other parades include America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit, the Celebrate the Season Parade in Pittsburgh and the Uncle Dan’s Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago.

Sports has played an important part in celebrating Thanksgiving in America, and the most popular sport to watch on that day is football. The National Football League has held games on Thanksgiving with the league’s first season in 1920. The two teams that are most commonly associated with football on Thanksgiving are the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys. With the exception of 5 years during World War II, the Detroit Lions have hosted a game every Thanksgiving Game since 1934. In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys began their tradition of hosting Thanksgiving Day games. In college football, the regular season usually ends on Thanksgiving weekend, with famous rivalries such as Auburn vs. Alabama, Minnesota vs. Wisconsin and Michigan vs. Ohio State being played on that weekend to close out the season.

The tradition of pardoning a turkey was began by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Other presidents have pardoned the turkeys brought to them by the National Turkey Federation, with President George H.W. Bush making the tradition permanent in the first year of his term. The turkeys that have been pardoned have been sent to send their days from farms in Virginia, George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, and even Disneyland.

Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays of the year, a time where we can give thanks for all of the great things life has blessed us with. These traditions have made Thanksgiving a day of feasting and fun.