Thanksgiving Traditions From Around 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.
Since it’s early beginnings in America, Thanksgiving has brought many traditions to Americans. Your family probably has a few Thanksgiving traditions you follow each year.
10 Thanksgiving Traditions
- 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. Then they attach their leaf to the tree. The Thankful Tree’s leaves are a reminder of all the things we should be thankful.
- Having your guests sign the tablecloth. Each year visitors and guests sign the tablecloth. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- Learn the history of Thanksgiving. Each year take 15-30 minutes and study the history of Thanksgiving. Each year 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Putting up the Christmas tree and watching Christmas movies. What Thanksgiving would be complete without putting up the Christmas tree and then watching It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas in Connecticut (my 2 favorite Christmas movies)?
Thanksgiving has many traditions. It’s fun to learn about the history and traditions of others on Thanksgiving.
What traditions does your family have on Thanksgiving? What is your favorite childhood Thanksgiving memory?