Getting together with family or friends for tons of delicious food? No one can turn that down.
Thanksgiving is a harvest festival in the U.S. It originated with the Wampanoag First Nation’s People. It is said that the Wampanoag invited the pilgrims for a commemorative dinner to celebrate the plentiful harvest of that year.
There were deep tensions between the two groups, but they were able to set aside their differences and make peace that day. That is the greatest takeaway from the first Thanksgiving dinner.
Every year since, families have continued on the tradition of showing gratitude for a good year. But, like with any festival, odd traditions surround Thanksgiving. Here are some unusual traditions many that families practice.
Bow-Hunting to Catch Dinner
As popular as grocery store turkeys are, many families prefer catching their dinner fresh on the morning of Thanksgiving.
A popular tradition is for the men of the family to head out early on Thanksgiving Day to shoot a turkey. Traditionally, the turkey is hunted with a bow and arrow. Recently, though, rifles have become the weapon of choice.
While the men are out hunting, women usually stay home preparing the other dishes for dinner. Hunting is seen as a means to bond with children. Older men pass down the knowledge from the previous generation to the next.
The sport is restricted in many places in the U.S., and many families opt out of it for the convenience of a de-feathered and cleaned turkey.
Carving the Turkey
Preparation of the bird aside, carving the turkey is one of the longest-standing traditions in American Thanksgiving.
Usually, the oldest male member of the house carves the turkey at the dinner table. This is a symbolic gesture originating from the period where males were the predominant breadwinners of the family. It symbolizes the idea that the host is providing to the guests.
The carving is a ritualistic practice that needs to be done right. Turkeys have both white and dark meat. It is the intricate job of the carver to separate the two.
It is also the job of the carver to prepare for the next custom on this list:
Test out Your Luck with a Wishbone
Splitting the wishbone is a very popular Thanksgiving tradition in the U.S. This is a Y-shaped bone found at the junction of the chest and neck in a turkey.
When the turkey is carved, the wishbone is set out to dry until the end of dinner. Then, two participants get to split the wishbone.
The legend says that whoever gets the bigger half will have luck for the next year. They also get to make a wish that comes true.
Have a crack at this game if you’re invited over for a Thanksgiving dinner.
Games of Football
Being hungry enough to eat a multiple-course meal does not just happen. You have to prepare for it.
Many families eat a very light breakfast and lunch to save room for a heavy dinner. Others tough it out on the field for a couple of matches of touch football, or flag football.
Running around outside serves two purposes. It allows those cooking to do so in peace without children badgering them, and it will also allow participants to work up a heavy appetite and eat a hearty meal.
If you’re going to participate in sports, remember to bring a change of clothes, or at least some deodorant. Otherwise, no one will want to sit next to you at dinner.
Watching The Macy’s Day Parade
Any other day, you would be considered crazy for waking up in the wee hours of a morning to watch parade floats pass by on television. But on Thanksgiving, it is a cherished tradition across many households.
As the name reveals, the department store Macy’s organizes the parade. The parade happens in the usually bustling streets of Manhattan. It is a whopping three-hour-long ordeal.
The parade had its origins in the Roaring Twenties (1924), when it was a time for prosperity. Today, it is a custom to lavishly decorate floats and balloons. You can also see live actors, performances, and music in the parade.
It is a nationally broadcasted event with millions of viewers every year. It is a way to keep both children and adults engaged.
It can’t be a traditional Thanksgiving dinner if you don’t go around the dinner table saying what you’re thankful for. It’s literally in the holiday’s name.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on what you have been grateful for in the past year. It is a time to respect and recognize your family and friends for what they’ve done for you.
Since the early 2010’s, a practice called Friendsgiving has also cropped up. It is usually celebrated on the weekend, and is reserved to solely give thanks to your friends. It is a common practice amongst college students.
Set Up For Christmas with the Family
A common practice in the U.S. is to decorate your house according to the season or upcoming holiday, and everyone will unanimously agree that Christmas is the most fun to decorate for.
That’s why some families start decorating for Christmas right after their Thanksgiving dinner. It gives them a chance to decorate the house as a family.
Thanksgiving is usually celebrated at the oldest family member’s house. Since older people may not be able to do the heavy lifting, the younger ones can help out during Thanksgiving.
Decorating a house for Christmas is usually a family activity. For families that live across multiple states, Thanksgiving is a good time to do it.
Indulge In a Weekend-Long Spending Spree
This is a part of Thanksgiving that even those who don’t celebrate can enjoy.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. It is a day on which stores give out massive discounts for a lot of their stock.
You can find people lining up outside stores in the earliest hours of the morning waiting for the doors to open. Many people use Black Friday sales to budget-shop for Christmas.
Ever since online shopping was made mainstream, it has become more than a one-day ordeal. Sales are extended until the Monday after Thanksgiving. This is called Cyber-Monday. If you don’t want to get caught up in the crazy crowds on Friday, you can still get deals through Cyber-Monday.
Making a Delicious Sandwich with Leftovers
Eating leftovers is a huge tradition that is associated with Thanksgiving.
Many families make extra food just to have leftovers to give away, and you’ll find many people arguing that leftovers are actually tastier than the real meal.
There are so many Thanksgiving leftover recipes. These include quesadillas, casseroles, sandwiches, and sliders. So, after a hard day of cooking and cleaning, you get to spend a couple of days taking it easy.
If you’re going to a Thanksgiving party, remember to take food containers to bring leftovers home. The host will thank you for it.
Once you’re educated on these traditions, you’re ready to partake in your first American Thanksgiving dinner. Remember to have a good time and eat lots of food. That’s what it’s mostly about. Also, don’t hesitate to start your own traditions with your new friends or family.
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