Thanksgiving Traditions in America
Every year at the end of November, Americans celebrate a day of thanks. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 after their first harvest in the New World. In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation of thanks to God. Finally, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the last Thursday of November each year. Through the many years, we have developed Thanksgiving traditions. These Thanksgiving traditions make our annual celebrations memorable times with family and friends.
Since the beginning of Thanksgiving, Americans have added Thanksgiving traditions to this day. These traditions vary from family to family and even in different parts of the country. Your family probably has a few Thanksgiving traditions you follow each year.
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10 Thanksgiving Traditions
1. A Thankful Tree
Family members each receive a leaf (made from something simple like construction paper) and they write down what they are thankful for this year. Then they attach their leaf to the tree. The Thankful Tree’s leaves are a reminder of all the things we should be thankful.
2. Having your guests sign the tablecloth
Each year visitors and guests sign the tablecloth. A special section of the tablecloth is marked for each year. Over the years, the tablecloth becomes an annual reminder of who visited on Thanksgiving. Some families have visitors from Thanksgiving to New Year’s sign the tablecloth. What a wonderful gift to pass down in your family.
3. Thank you notes
Different from the Thankful Tree, each family member writes down things they are thankful, but cannot include health, family or money (it’s assumed you are thankful for these). Each note is placed in a bowl and then read aloud. If you want to make it a game, you could leave the notes unsigned and guess who wrote each note.
4. Breaking the wishbone
We always let the wishbone from the turkey dry and then break it. Whoever has the biggest side of the wishbone when it breaks will have their “wish” for the year.
4. Traditional food
Does your family have a Thanksgiving dish you have every year? Maybe it’s a special recipe that Grandma would make and the recipe has been passed down. Maybe you have the exact same foods every year?
Looking for ideas for your Thanksgiving menu? Check out this Thanksgiving menu plan.
5. Learn the history of Thanksgiving
Each year take 15-30 minutes and study the history of Thanksgiving. Try to discover a new fact about the history of Thanksgiving. You could keep your Thanksgiving history in a book and read the book each year at Thanksgiving dinner.
You could also make this a game. Let everyone grab their smartphones and see who finds the most unique or interesting Thanksgiving fact.
6. A Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner
Our family is big and sometimes we have to visit different family members on holidays. So, to have just our immediate family (parents, sisters, nieces, nephews, siblings, and grandkids) all together for one dinner, we celebrate Pre-Thanksgiving. This way, everyone can come and it’s not stressful and nobody feels rushed. We call it “The Night Before Thanksgiving Dinner.”
7. Be thankful and give back to the community by volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter
Give your time to those in need. Even just a few hours is a huge benefit to others on Thanksgiving, and it shows your gratitude and appreciation for all you have.
8. Parades and football games
The girls love the Macy’s parade (what fun to go in person just once), and the guys love the football games. Don’t forget to get the kids outside for an after-dinner football game.
9. Play a Thanksgiving family game
10. Putting up the Christmas tree and watching Christmas movies
These are just a few Thanksgiving traditions your family will love to celebrate year after year. Thanksgiving traditions will be the memories talked about year after year at your family reunions and Thanksgiving dinners. Start a new tradition this year.
What traditions does your family have on Thanksgiving? What is your favorite childhood Thanksgiving memory?
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