The Surprising Origins Of 10 Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving is infamous for unusually large portions of turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. However, Thanksgiving is also known for a handful of other traditions, some that began having absolutely nothing to do with the holiday itself. What are these strange Thanksgiving customs, and how did they come to be?

1. The Turkey Trot Footrace

Flickr – JBLM MWR

The Turkey Trot, a now well-known race held in many cities nationwide Thanksgiving morning, is a tradition that began in Buffalo, NY in 1896. What better way to preemptively offset the evening’s feast than to run with community?


2. The Presidential Pardoning Of The Turkey

Obama White House

While records can only prove this tradition to date back to George H.W. Bush, rumors state that Lincoln was the first president to do it when he pardoned his son’s pet turkey. Now, it is a cherished public spectacle.


3. The Gobbler Gallop


What began in 1908 as a spectacle of farmers herding thousands of turkeys down the road to a local turkey dressing house to be prepared for Thanksgiving has now become the annual TurkeyFest, including the turkey race, in Cuero, Texas.


4. Franksgiving

Flickr – FDR Presidential Library & Museum

Franklin Roosevelt, attempting to pull Americans out of the Great Depression by kicking off Christmas shopping early, moved Thanksgiving up a week from 1939-1941. Some states outright refused the change, though a couple decided to celebrate on both days.


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