7 Popular Traditions That Did Not Exist During The First Thanksgiving

Make New Traditions With Famous Thanksgiving Quotes

Photo by Bruce Ayres/Getty Images

Many of the Thanksgiving traditions that you see on the holiday did not exist since the first Thanksgiving. These traditions evolved over time. You could say that only true tradition of Thanksgiving is the feast, and of course, giving thanks. Everything else, came later.

1. Thanksgiving Feast

The Pilgrims of Plymouth, after having gone through several years of hardship and suffering, finally managed to survive the harsh, cold winters of the new land.

The Natives helped the Pilgrims grow crops, and vegetables so that they could survive during bad weather. Finally, when they managed to survive, the Pilgrims hosted a feast for the Natives, to show them their appreciation. The feast became a part of the Thanksgiving tradition. This tradition is continued in every American family even today.

2. Thanksgiving Food

Food has seen much evolution over the times. In ancient times, corn, potatoes, squash, and other vegetables and fruits were served at the Thanksgiving feast. The Thanksgiving turkey did not figure in the feast. All types of fowl were eaten during Thanksgiving. Over the years, the turkey became the center-piece of Thanksgiving. Many families still serve corn, potatoes, and squash, but new entrants like cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pies became Thanksgiving staple and have their place of pride at the dinner table.

3. Cracking the Wishbone

The tradition of cracking the wishbone is older than Thanksgiving itself.

This tradition comes from ancient Italy, where the Etruscans lived. From Italy, this tradition passed on to ancient Romans who in turn passed it on to England in the 16th century. The Pilgrims who originated from England, brought forth this tradition to the new land, and made it their own. The ancient people would believe that the rooster had divine properties and could make wishes come true.

Whether in jest or simply for the sake of tradition, this ritual caught on. And it is still practiced during Thanksgiving. Family members hold each end of the dried bone from the turkey carcass and tug at the joint. Whoever gets the bigger piece of the bone, ends up lucky. The winner will have his or her wishes fulfilled by the dead bird. 

4. The Presidential Turkey Pardon

This is a relatively new tradition. Though it was informally initiated by President Lincoln, the turkey pardon became an official White House tradition since 1989, when President Bush made it official. Though this does not affect American families directly, the White House tries to involve the public by announcing the turkey candidates who are nominated for pardon. Turkeys that win public favour are usually chosen for the Turkey Pardon.

5. The Big Nap

After a heavy Thanksgiving meal, who can fight sleep? The big snooze after a Thanksgiving meal makes it a part of the custom, simply because people find themselves too lethargic for activity. So, don't be surprised to catch the entire family snoring in their bedrooms after the heavy, calorie-rich, meal.

6. Football

I have a suspicion that football crept into Thanksgiving tradition because of the big nap.

Nobody can escape the drowsiness that a Thanksgiving meal can cause. So maybe watching an exciting football game became the only passive indulgence that people could afford after the sleep-inducing feast. 

7. New Traditions Find Their Place With Old Traditions

Many American families have introduced new Thanksgiving traditions to make their feast special. For instance, some families hold hands and say a prayer of thanks to God. Some families have each member talk about at least one thing that makes them feel most grateful. You too can start a new tradition in your family.

Share these famous Thanksgiving quotes to touch hearts. The wise words of the noble and the famous will leave a lasting impression on your children's minds. Over time, they will carry forth the wisdom and insight they gained through a simple Thanksgiving tradition.

So light the candle of knowledge and learning this Thanksgiving. Make these famous Thanksgiving quotes a part of your family tradition.

  • Marlee Matlin
    I am grateful for each and every food bank that helps families in need. Now, more than ever, hunger is a crisis in America, and yet it is not spoken enough and people have yet to give enough to help those in need. Local food banks help fill this need but they need our help, our support, and most importantly, our dollars. No one should ever go hungry.
  • Jack Handey
    I think the best Thanksgiving we ever had was one where we didn't even have a turkey. Mom and Dad sat us kids down and explained that business hadn't been good at Dad's store, so we couldn't afford a turkey. We had vegetables and bread and pie, and it was just fine. Later on, I went into Mom and Dad's bedroom to thank them and I caught them eating a little turkey. I guess that really wasn't the best Thanksgiving.
  • Bob Schieffer
    The truth is the Super Bowl long ago became more than just a football game. It's part of our culture like turkey at Thanksgiving and lights at Christmas, and like those holidays beyond their meaning, a factor in our economy.
  • D. Waitley
    Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.
  • George Herbert
    O Thou Who has given us so much, mercifully grant us one more thing: a grateful heart.
  • William Jennings Bryan
    On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.
  • Joseph Auslander
    Dear Lord; we beg but one boon more:
    Peace in the hearts of all men living,
    Peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving.
  • William A. Ward
    God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you?
  • Sir John Templeton
    How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child's personality. A child is resentful, negative, or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.
  • Theodore Roosevelt
    Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.
  • Eugene Cloutier
    To know the value of generosity, it is necessary to have suffered from the cold indifference of others.
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Khurana, Simran. "7 Popular Traditions That Did Not Exist During The First Thanksgiving." ThoughtCo, Mar. 2, 2017, thoughtco.com/popular-thanksgiving-traditions-2833548. Khurana, Simran. (2017, March 2). 7 Popular Traditions That Did Not Exist During The First Thanksgiving. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/popular-thanksgiving-traditions-2833548 Khurana, Simran. "7 Popular Traditions That Did Not Exist During The First Thanksgiving." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/popular-thanksgiving-traditions-2833548 (accessed May 22, 2018).