14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren’t Weird

Chela Mibei
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Let’s be honest: Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s as stuffed with weirdness as your Aunt Carol’s turducken. Sure, on the surface, it’s a heartwarming day meant to share gratitude and green bean casserole with loved ones. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find some bizarre traditions we all decided to roll with because it’s Thanksgiving.

So, gather around the table and prepare to have your mind blown by these 14 strange Thanksgiving traditions that everyone pretends aren’t weird.

Turkey Pardoning

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
White House photo by Paul Morse//wikimedia commons

Let’s start with a classic: every year, the President of the United States pardons one lucky turkey from becoming Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a strange tradition that dates back to the mid-20th century. President Ronald Reagan was the first president to “pardon” a turkey. While it may seem sweet on the surface, it also raises some questions about why we must “pardon” a bird first.

The Wishbone Tug-of-War

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
Susan Vineyard via Canva.com

This belief originated from ancient Romans, who believed that breaking the larger part of a wishbone would fulfill one’s wishes.

Eating Canned Cranberry Sauce

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
DebbiSmirnoff via Canva.com

We love a good cranberry sauce. But something is unsettling about that jellied, can-shaped mold of cranberries plopped onto your plate yearly. Yet, we keep coming back for more.

Thanksgiving Day Football Games

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
football wife from Pexels via Canva.com

For some reason, it’s become a tradition to watch grown men in tight pants throw around an oddly shaped ball on Thanksgiving. We’re not complaining, but it does make you wonder how this mash-up of sports and turkey came to be.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
John Prato//wikimedia commons

It is another tradition that we all pretend isn’t strange. Every year, giant balloons in the shape of cartoon characters float down the streets of New York City while millions of people watch from home. It’s a spectacle, but it also raises the question: why is this happening?

Black Friday Shopping

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
Gridprop at English Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons

While not technically a Thanksgiving tradition, it has become common for people to leave their turkey dinner early to stand in line for hours and fight over discounted TVs. Is this really how we want to show gratitude for all we have?

Thanksgiving Eating Pie Contest

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
PamelaJoeMcFarlane via Canva.com

Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness and, of course, food. What better way to show off our baking skills than with an annual pie contest? We can marvel at unique flavors as well as traditional recipes. The contestants of the pie-eating competition must finish a whole pie while their hands are tied behind their backs.

The Thanksgiving Baby Boom

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
bongbaby housevn from Pixabay via Canva.com

There is a spike in birth rates nine months after Thanksgiving. Coincidence? We think not. There must be something about all that turkey and pumpkin pie that gets people in the mood.

The “Turkey Trot”

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Derek Del Rosario, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment//wikimedia commons

Every year, thousands nationwide participate in a pre-Thanksgiving race called the Turkey Trot, where they run or walk (or waddle) for miles before sitting down to eat a huge meal. Is this some preparation tactic? We may never know.

David Plotz, 19 Pies

 

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
Billion Photos via Canva.com

David Plotz, the renowned writer of Slate Magazine, hails from a family with extraordinary Thanksgiving traditions. In a memorable anecdote from 2011, he recounted his mother’s remarkable feat of baking 19 delectable pies, each with its unique flavor, to accompany a lavish feast prepared for a gathering of 20 cherished guests.

Pumpkin Smash on Thanksgiving Day

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
davemantel via Canva.com

In Santa Barbara Zoo in California, smashing pumpkins is a Thanksgiving tradition. We’re not talking about punk kids vandalizing property but instead organized events where animals play and interact with pumpkins.

The Great Turkey Toss

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
Monstera from Pexels via Canva.com

Here’s a strange tradition that we’re pretty sure only exists in the Midwest: the Turkey Toss-Off. It involves throwing a frozen turkey as far as possible, and whoever throws it the furthest wins. Not sure why this is a thing, but hey, at least it gets everyone outside for some fresh air.

Turkey Bowling

14 Strange Thanksgiving Traditions That Everyone Pretends Aren't Weird
Lance Cpl. Andrea Dickerson//wikimedia commons

Just like regular bowling, you set up pins and use a frozen turkey (or canned goods) as your ball. It’s a great way to get the whole family together for festive fun!

Thanksgiving Dungeness Crab

Thanksgiving Dungeness Crab
Possumposs via Canva.com

If you live on the West Coast, you know that Dungeness Crab is a staple of Thanksgiving. In some areas of Seattle and San Francisco, they even host “Dungeness Crab-feeds,” where everyone gets together to feast on crabs. Sounds like an awesome way to celebrate!

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Author

  • Chela Mibei

    Chela excels in crafting insightful pieces, drawing from her background in finance and commerce. Her passions for reading, travel, writing, and volunteering enrich her contributions.

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