Throwback Thursday: 5 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions

by | Nov 16, 2017 | Tips & Tricks | 0 comments

Thanksgiving is a holiday that most people see as the beginning of the holiday season, closely followed by Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years, to name a few. However, most never really think about some of the strange traditions that happen every year on Thanksgiving. Here we list just 5 strange Thanksgiving Traditions that most people accept but never wonder why they are taking part in them.

Cracking The Wishbone

The act of cracking the wishbone is a tradition that many people have followed their whole life. Once the meat is completely plucked from the turkey, the wishbone is carefully removed and set aside to dry. Because the wishbone can’t be cracked while it’s still damp the actual act of breaking the wishbone has to wait a few days but have you ever thought about where this tradition came from? Although most people probably link it to something your parents made up, in actual fact the tradition goes back a lot further than that.

This tradition began with the Etruscans and their chickens rather than turkeys. The Etruscans believed that the chickens could predict the future. After they ate the chicken they would dry the wishbone, the chicken equivalent of a clavicle in humans, in the sun to dry out so that they could still use the chickens’ powers after it was gone. People would then pick it up, touch it, and make wishes on it.

After the Romans ran into the Etruscans they adopted this tradition as well. However, because chickens were few and far between at that time, they started the tradition of having two people pull on the wishbone in order to share it. The person who got the biggest piece was deemed the winner and their wish would come true. Through the years this tradition made it’s way to England and then eventually the rest of the world.

Since then this tradition has evolved to include turkeys and has been a regular tradition among many families after enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. So there you go. Now you know!

Pardoning The Turkey

Although this tradition has become a staple of Thanksgiving and most feel it’s been going on for centuries it’s actually a fairly new tradition. The first president to literally say the word ‘pardon’ in regards to the holiday turkey was President G. W. Bush in 1989. Since then most presidents have followed suit by pardoning two turkeys and letting them live on.

History does show that there were a few incidences of presidents setting the turkeys free such as President Lincoln who let his son, Tad’s, pet turkey go free after his son begged him not to eat his pal and President John F. Kennedy spared the turkey given to him in 1963 when he said “We’ll just let this one grow”. He then sent it back to the farm to live out its life. Although President Truman is said to be the first president to pardon a turkey in actual fact there is no evidence at all that fact is true.

Although a strange tradition, this one has become a yearly thing for the birds presented to the White House for the holidays and will most likely continue on indefinitely.

Knocking 3 Times

Another strange tradition that borders more on the superstitious but many do it. There’s a good amount of people who believe that if they knock 3 times on a wooden board, such as a cutting board, before putting the turkey in the oven it will guarantee that the meat will come out perfect. If only it were that easy.

Watching Football

This one Thanksgiving tradition has the ability to literally divide the sports fans from the non-sports fans. After a Tryptophan-laced meal of turkey and the fixings, sports fans retire to the living room to watch football and non-sports fans gather in another room to chat about why the the others need to watch football on Thanksgiving all the time. However, even though it would seem there’s no relationship between Thanksgiving and football, there is actually quite a long history involved with this one.

This tradition started shortly after President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. In 1876, Yale and Princeton played on Thanksgiving and because of that the holiday became the day when the Intercollegiate Football Association played its championship game. By the 1890s, football games became the mainstay tradition of Thanksgiving.

Today there are always three Thanksgiving games each year that the NFL plays and two of those include the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys. So even though some people think it has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, football has been a holiday tradition for a very long time.

Turkey Trot

This tradition of dressing up like a turkey and running a long-distance race actually started in Buffalo in 1896. Since then they happen all over the globe. The Troy, Michigan Turkey Trot started in 1916 with only six runners and today it is one of the biggest turkey trots in the United States.

Although the race is traditionally run as a prelude to the overindulgence the participants are anticipating at the Thanksgiving table, many turkey trots have evolved into charity races that provide meals to those who are less fortunate. So all in all, though it may be strange, it’s a tradition with fun and caring intentions attached to it.

As always, come back to the RVUSA blog for RV tips, exciting travel destinations, and so much more! Leave us a message below if you have any thoughts, memories or comments. We’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to receive our blog posts directly in your inbox, click here to join our free email list.


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