Thanksgiving Traditions Through The Years
How are you celebrating Turkey Day? We’ve got a play-by-play of the most popular Thanksgiving traditions for you to tick off your list. Learn more.
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Thanksgiving Traditions Through The Years

By: Alice Murray

Nov 18, 2020
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In some way or another, American families have been celebrating Thanksgiving since the 1600s. And now, families come together to celebrate Turkey Day. Picture this: it’s the fourth Thursday of November. The bird is roasting in the oven, the mashed potatoes are creamy, and the cranberry sauce is bitterly sweet. The table is set for a feast and it’s time for the Thanksgiving traditions to get underway!

But a successful Thanksgiving Day takes lots of planning – which is why we’ve pulled together a list of the Thanksgiving family traditions that you won’t want to forget.

Timeless Thanksgiving traditions

Thanksgiving Day has been around for centuries. It started out as a harvest festival, and to this day the center of Thanksgiving traditions remains to be the dinner feast. But the popular national holiday hasn’t always been the way that it is now. The earliest Thanksgiving traditions were much longer than those of the modern day, and celebrations often lasted multiple days. And while the first Thanksgiving likely featured a cooked bird of some sort (and probably more than one), it’s unknown whether one of these was turkey. But what do the Thanksgiving traditions look like now? Find out below.

Fun Thanksgiving traditions for families

Unlike other traditional holidays, like Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve when people opt to head out to celebrate, Thanksgiving is typically spent at home with family and friends. But what are the Thanksgiving Day traditions that people use to celebrate? From family Thanksgiving games, to foodie feasts and Thanksgiving photos, hosts have a lot on their plate before it comes to actually filling the plates with food. And every family is different, of course, but here are some of the common fun Thanksgiving traditions to follow. 

People Playing Family Thanksgiving Games

Travel

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year, because the most important Thanksgiving tradition is spending time with family and friends. And with many families being separated across the country, lots of people travel to spend the holiday period with their loved ones – be that by car, train or plane.

Thanksgiving dinner

Possibly the most obvious of the Thanksgiving traditions is the feast – a great section of foods and dishes that are indigenous to the Americas. Combining turkey with potatoes (typically mashed), stuffing, corn, yams, green beans, cranberry sauce and not forgetting the all-important pumpkin pie.

The turkey pardon

Every year, the president of the United States is gifted two live turkeys. One of the most well-known Thanksgiving Day traditions is “pardoning” these turkeys in a White House ceremony so that they can live on a farm.

The wishbone

A big part of the turkey Thanksgiving tradition is the wishbone. Two people receive the honor of grabbing a side of the wishbone and breaking it apart while making a wish – and whoever breaks off the larger part gets their wish!

The parade

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York is the world’s largest parade – complete with giant character balloons, floats, street performers and the man himself, Santa Claus! Whether you’re watching street-side or from the comfort of your own home, it’s one that you definitely won’t want to miss.

Giving thanks and helping others

It’s in the name – but Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what you have. Which is why it’s a great time to help out those who aren’t quite as lucky. Some people choose to spend their days volunteering at homeless shelters or food banks, while others donate. Many families also like to say a few Thanksgiving prayers, poems or blessings to give thanks.

Thanksgiving photos

To get into the holiday spirit, many people opt to take Thanksgiving photos of the family and feast to commemorate the occasion. From taking group photos and behind-the-scenes shots of the Thanksgiving prep, to snaps of the festive table and casual candid’s, Thanksgiving photos are a great way to document the holiday. They’re also the perfect Thanksgiving tradition for families who are separated and can’t travel. If you have a family member or friend who can’t be with you this year, sharing snaps of your day is a great way to make them feel a part of the celebrations.

Wishing you were spending the holiday with your loved ones, but can’t? If you’re looking for the next best thing, why not pick up a Nixplay smart photo frame? That way, you and your family can spend the day together, virtually. No matter where you are, simply send live snaps of your day right through to their frame and it’ll bring you all together. And as the bestselling digital photo frame in the US, the Nixplay Wi-Fi frame allows you to share and display your photos easily, instantly, and privately – making it easy for families to stay close during the holiday season. Browse the collection online and order yours ahead of the Thanksgiving period today.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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