Common Thanksgiving Traditions Explained

Common Thanksgiving Traditions Explained

Ever wonder why the president pardons a turkey or why football is synonymous with Thanksgiving?  Then read on to learn how these Thanksgiving traditions came to be. 

While your family probably has their own Thanksgiving traditions, there are several Thanksgiving traditions that the whole country celebrates.  Many of these traditions have roots in American history and we continue to honor them today.  Here are the origins of some of the most common Thanksgiving traditions.

Presidential Turkey Pardon

Every year around Thanksgiving, the president “saves” one turkey from becoming dinner.  This interesting tradition originated with President John F. Kennedy in 1963.  Up until this point, turkey farmers had always sent their best turkeys to be served at the president’s Thanksgiving dinner.  However, in 1963, President Kennedy returned a turkey sent by the National Turkey Federation saying “We’ll just let this one grow.”  During his term, President Richard Nixon spared several turkeys and sent them to a Washington D.C. petting zoo.  However, it wasn’t until 1989 that President H. W. Bush gave the first official turkey pardon.  From then, it has become an annual tradition for the president to free a feathered friend.

Thanksgiving Football

For many families throughout America, football is an integral part of their holiday festivities.  Thanksgiving football has its roots in the Great Depression.  In 1930 the Portsmouth Spartans football team moved to Detroit.  The team’s owner knew he had to do something to get local football fans to rally behind the new team.  In 1934 he organized a game between the Spartans (later re-named the Lions) and the Chicago Bears (the world champions at the time).  The game was an instant success, with tickets selling out weeks before the actual game.  The venture was so popular that it was repeated again the year after and from there a tradition was born.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

After a day of feasting, many families tune in to watch he Thanksgiving Day Parade.  This iconic event began in 1924 when Macy’s employees held a parade featuring knights, clowns, jugglers, and marching Macy’s employees.  The parade drew a crowd 250,000 deep and the department store decided to hold a parade every year.  The huge balloon floats that we all know and love were introduced in 1927 when a huge Felix the Cat balloon floated above the parade.

These are just a few explanations for the most common Thanksgiving traditions.  If you would like to be part of another iconic celebration, then mark your calendars for the next Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival.  In summer of 2018, Simi Valley will come alive with Cajun music and food, zydeco music, blues music, a Mardi Gras parade, zydeco dance lessons, and more!  To learn more about this exciting local event, contact Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival today.