Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thanksgiving Traditions

Traditions. This time of year we have so very many of them to contend with. Some we like. Some we endure. Some we actually enjoy! Traditions are a big part of the Thanksgiving holiday, and every American has their own way of celebrating--from stuffing the turkey to taking in a football game. I wanted to try to figure out what it is we all do on Thanksgiving Day…here’s what I came up with as the five most popular traditions.

1. Turkey and Stuffing
From the first Thanksgiving to today's turkey burgers, turkeys are an American tradition dating back centuries. According to the National Turkey Federation, 95 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving. Regional twists offer variations on the traditional roasted bird, including coffee rubbed turkey from Hawaii, salt encrusted turkey from New England, and deep-fried turkey from the South.

2. Time out for the Pigskin
Throughout the United States, football on Thanksgiving Day is as big a part of the celebration as turkey and pumpkin pie. Dating back to the first intercollegiate football championship held on Thanksgiving Day in 1876, traditional holiday football rivalries have become so popular that a reporter once called Thanksgiving "a holiday granted by the State and the Nation to see a game of football."

3.Parading Around
The first American Thanksgiving Day parade was held in 1920, organized by Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia, not Macy's as most people believe. The NYC Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade tradition actually began in 1924, and has grown into an annual event of balloons, bands, and floats, enjoyed by more than 46 million people each year in person and on TV.

4. Making a Wish
Does your family fight over the wishbone from the Thanksgiving turkey? Known as a "lucky break" the tradition of tugging on either end of a fowl's bone to win the larger piece and its accompanying "wish" dates back to the Etruscans of 322 B.C. The Romans brought the tradition with them when they conquered England and the English colonists carried the tradition on to America.

5. Giving Thanks
Last, but certainly not least, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the people and blessings of the past year. From pre-meal prayers to providing holiday meals to the homeless, the holiday is truly a celebration of praise and thanksgiving.

There are two traditions I look forward to every year, on top of those listed here. My husband and I watch the movie, Home for the Holidays, a few days before everyone comes over for the Thanksgiving Day feast. The movie always makes me feel like nothing that happens with my family could ever be as bad as all that! Perspective is everything at holiday time!
The other tradition I must embrace is Pumpkin Pie. Love it! But don’t love all the calories that go along with it. So here’s a recipe I created and use every year that makes the pie indulgence a little more of a guilty pleasure instead of something I regret.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie
1 15-oz can pumpkin
3/4 cup egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup Splenda or sugar, whichever you prefer
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsps pumpkin pie spice
1 can evaporated non-fat milk

Mix together pumpkin, egg substitute and vanilla. Combine Splenda or sugar, spice and salt, then add to pumpkin mixture alternately with milk, starting and ending with milk. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Serves 6

What are your family traditions on Thanksgiving?


Carol L. November 14, 2009 at 9:20 AM  

Okay, now I am starving. What a great looking turkey. And one of my favorites, Pumpkin Pie. Thanks for this guiltless recipe :)
Carol L.

EmilyBryan November 14, 2009 at 11:30 AM  

After our pre-pig-out prayer, we each tell what we're most thankful for from the past year.

Then on Friday after Thanksgiving, we set up all the Christmas decorations. Forget about fighting the crowd at the shopping mall. I'll do most of mine online.

Sandy November 14, 2009 at 3:04 PM  


It's so sad that my family is so scattered that we don't celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving any more. My grandmother, aunts and mom would be so sad to think we aren't together at this time. Of course, if they were still here, we would still be having a traditional Thanksgiving. Smile.

Misty November 14, 2009 at 3:12 PM  

Every thanksgiving I cook a huge dinner, I go completely overboard Turkey, Smithfield ham, home made mashed potatos, candied yams, collard greens, rolls, homemade mac and cheese. Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie, Chocolate pecan pie, chocolate pie, lemon creme pie, banana pudding and peanut butter candy. We invite all the soldiers in the unit that are unable to travel home for the holiday. After the feast we set up the christmas tree and decorations and we all make ornaments. The tradition was kind of adopted from my aunt who for the past 19 years this will be her 20th has cooked an italian feast for the Langley Air force base mp squadron.

Terri November 14, 2009 at 3:12 PM  

Thanksgiving is gathering with family and extended not quite family. We always have way too much food but once the kids were grown instead of me supplying it all, we all contribute making small work of a mighty feat.

Our normal gathering is around 20 to 25 people. Lots of laughter, stories and kids running everywhere. Sometimes this has been just family, others the guys my husband worked with in the Army and this year family and friends who ought to be family.

After dinner, the women gather around the sales fliers for black Friday figuring out who is going where to get what while the guys are riding herd on the kids and playing games. Throughout the weekend, we'll come together to eat and relax. And make turkey curry getting rid of most of the leftovers!

I'm glad the meal has moved from my house to my oldest son's. I really don't have time to clean as well as I would like for the influx of people.

Enjoy all the good food. Holiday food is zero caleries....right?


librarypat November 14, 2009 at 7:09 PM  

Pretty much the same as yours. When we lived in the north we would take a nice fall hike. I've seen Home
for The Holidays and if we lived close enough to have Thanksgiving with my family, that is what it would be like. After saying that, it would be nice to go up for the holiday. My Dad isn't in the best of health. We have our children near us here and will all get together if we can. Our oldest daughter will probably come alone. Her husband's parents get very upset if he doesn't spend every holiday with them. I've told our daughter to go with him and come down the day after or on the weekend. This has been going on since they got married 6 years ago. Somebody needs to cut the apron strings. It isn't fair to either one of them.

Gerri Russell November 14, 2009 at 8:52 PM  

Thank you all for stopping by and sharing your Thanksgiving traditions--the chaos, the calm, and even a touch of the bittersweet.

I am thankful for each and every one of you!

Joy to you always,


Amy C November 16, 2009 at 3:19 AM  

I had no idea the origins of the wish bone from the turkey. How cool that it is such an old tradition! I can't say my husband and I look for the wishbone. I don't. I have this thing with digging around inside the remains of a dead animal :P. It just sorta creeps me out. So I leave all that to my husband. Maybe I'll make him look for it this year.

I fix a small dinner for my small family (me, my son, my husband and my mom) makes it really easy. But we do have a tradition we do after dinner...we set up the Christmas tree. It's one my son won't let me forget :).

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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