Have you ever wondered where some of our stranger Thanksgiving traditions come from? We were curious about how some foods became Thanksgiving traditions, why the president pardons a turkey every year, and so forth, so we’ve researched America’s celebrated holiday. Here are some Thanksgiving traditions explained.
The most popular parts of the Thanksgiving meal—turkey and pumpkin pie—probably weren’t a big part of the first Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, they might not have even been there. Turkey gained popularity in the 1800s because it was bigger and less expensive than chicken, and the early colonists probably didn’t have the ingredients to make pumpkin pie, though they ate pumpkin stewed and baked instead.
The presidential turkey pardon has a much shorter history than you might think. While Kennedy was the first president on record to publicly refuse to kill a turkey for Thanksgiving, it didn’t become a tradition until the first official pardon by George H.W. Bush in 1989.
Thanksgiving was unofficially celebrated throughout the 1600s, but it wasn’t until 1775 that George Washington declared it a national holiday, and the date wasn’t fixed on the fourth Thursday in November until 1863 under President Lincoln.
There’s also interesting history behind watching football on Thanksgiving Day. The first Thanksgiving football game was played between the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions, who had just moved to Detroit and wanted to do something to draw in fans. The game was so popular it became a yearly tradition.
These are just some of the uniquely American traditions we see every year at Thanksgiving. Check out more here!