Thanksgiving Traditions


Emily Peck

Traditions go hand in hand with holidays. Here are some of the traditions associated with Thanksgiving:


Turkey at the Feast:

The Thanksgiving Day Feast is a popular tradition among many families. Common foods eaten during this feast are stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and turkey. Alexander Hamilton once stated, “No citizen of the U.S. shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” The reason turkey is a popular tradition on Thanksgiving is because colonist William Bradford wrote about it. He wrote about how the colonists in the autumn of 1612 had hunted wild turkeys, and how they were a delicious and “uniquely American” bird.


The Turkey Pardon:

Speaking of turkeys, every Thanksgiving, two turkeys are gifted to the president. It is tradition that at a ceremony held at the White House, the president “pardons” these two turkeys so that they can live on a farm.


The Wishbone:

After the Thanksgiving Feast, the tradition of breaking the wishbone of the turkey often follows. In this tradition, one person grabs onto one end of a turkey’s wishbone, while another person grabs the opposite side. Then, both people will tear apart the wishbone, in hopes of getting the larger side. In this tradition, the person who is left with the larger side of the wishbone will have one of their wishes come true. The reasoning behind a turkey’s wishbone giving someone their wish did not actually originate with turkeys. Instead, this tradition began with chickens. The Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization, believed that chickens were oracles that could predict the future. When they slaughtered chickens, they would take the wishbone out so that people could make a wish when holding it, therefore how it got its name. Then, the Romans came in contact with the Etruscans. When many Romans decided they wanted wishbones, they found that there were not enough to go around. This caused them to begin breaking the wishbone in half. The Romans passed this tradition onto the English, who colonized America. Chickens were swapped with turkeys, because turkeys were abundant.


Turkey Trot:

The Turkey Trot is a race held annually on or around Thanksgiving. Prizes for this race can include money, t-shirts, frozen turkey, and even live turkeys! This race is said to have started in 1896.



The cornucopia is also known as the “horn of plenty.” It is often filled with flowers, fruits, and vegetables. As times have changed, many people have begun putting items that mean a lot to them inside of it rather than food and flowers.