How Thanksgiving Traditions Got Started?

Nov 23, 2017

Modern Thanksgiving Day traditions do differ a lot from the times of the first unofficial and official observations of that holiday. Let’s see how Thanksgiving Day appeared, where such family rituals as football and parades watching, cooking, eating and begging turkey pardon come from and how they were rooted in the American culture.

Origin of Thanksgiving Day

While 1621 is considered to be the year of first Thanksgiving Day festivities celebrated by local Indians and Pilgrims, who arrived at Plymouth Rock at that time, there are also other observable versions of its origin connected with celebrations in 1598 by Juan de Onate and his fellow travelers (Texas) and celebrations in 1565 by Pedro Menendes de Aviles and his troops (Florida).

Official Annual Observation

Though origins of Thanksgiving Day are rooted in XVI century, the holiday became an official fixed annual event only in 1863. President Lincoln declared the holiday as a national one setting the ultimate Thursday of November as a date for its celebration.

Turkey or Venison? That Is the Question!

Everyone associates Thanksgiving Day with a roasted turkey as a traditional to-serve-meal on the occasion of the holiday. However, did you know that, in reality, the meat of venison was the main course on the tables of Pilgrims during the huge three-day feast devoted to the abundant harvest? Despite wild turkeys were on the territory of Plymouth Rock exactly deer, ducks and goose were preferred on the pilgrim’s menu.

Pardoning the Thanksgiving Turkey

According to the White House Historical Association, turkeys, which were sent to American presidents as gifts since the 1870s, has become a national symbol of a good cheer. It is claimed that the establishment of the tradition of pardoning a turkey on Thanksgiving Day goes back to the times of President Truman, though, the official formalities of pardoning the Thanksgiving Turkey were laid dawn by George H. W. Bush in 1989.

The Tradition of Macy’s Parade

This one belongs to the list of recent traditions, which started to be observed in 1924. The large-scale Macy’s Parade was organized by the department store chain called Macy and was one of the biggest parades ever. Since that time it is annually held in New York City and brings joy to millions of families with its live performances.

Thanksgiving Football Tradition

The tradition of playing/watching football on Thanksgiving Day is as essential as eating turkey. First games on that holiday were played between Yale and Princeton Universities in 1876. The tradition was maintained with the development of professional football and nowadays football is an integral part of Thanksgiving celebrations.

Don’t know how to spend Thanksgiving Day? Simply follow the formed traditions and have fun.