These Are the 11 Weirdest Thanksgiving Traditions Ever

President Ford pardoning a turkey
President Ford pardoning a turkey | © NAID / WikiCommons
Photo of India Irving
Social Media Editor18 November 2017

Thanksgiving is a day of family, food and traditions, but people get up to stranger things on the holiday than you might imagine! Here are 11 of the craziest Thanksgiving traditions ever.

National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation

President Ford pardoning a turkey | © NAID / WikiCommons

Since the 1940’s and officially since 1989, US Presidents have been ‘pardoning’ a turkey prior to Thanksgiving. In a televised ceremony, the President is presented with a live domestic turkey which he ‘pardons’. The turkey is then sent to live out its days at Mount Vernon, the former estate of President George Washington as opposed to ending up as someone’s dinner.

Turkey Bowling

Turkey Bowling | © Pfc. Cory D. Polom / WikiCommons

Forget bowling balls and bowl with a frozen turkey this Thanksgiving using soda or water bottles as makeshift pins. This hilarious tradition started in 1988 at Lucky’s grocery shop in Newport Beach, where the bowling took place in the alleys of the store.

Turducken

Turducken | © Engelmann / WikiCommons

When turkey isn’t enough, try a turducken! A deboned chicken is stuffed into a deboned duck which is then stuffed into a deboned turkey. Whoa.

Sub turkey for crab

Dungeness crab | © Jon Sullivan / WikiCommons

Or, go completely ham like they do in San Francisco and substitute your Thanksgiving bird with crab! Thanksgiving normally marks the beginning of Dungeness crab season so there is no better way to celebrate than a seafood Thanksgiving feast.

North Tech pie-throwing

Pie-throwing | © Seth Lemmons / Flickr

At the North Technical High School in Florissant, Missouri, Thanksgiving marks an annual pie-throwing event where students get to launch pies at the faculty and administration. This seems like something the world could get into.

The Turkey Trot

Turkey Trot | © Chris Cast / Flickr

These popular events generally held before Thanksgiving involve getting dressed up as a turkey and doing a 3-to-5-mile run, normally for charity. A great way to shed some excess calories pre-feasting, think of it like a Thanksgiving-themed mini marathon.

Turkey-eating competitions

A nineteenth-century caricature | © James Gillray / WikiCommons

A few brave folks get together before Thanksgiving to stretch their stomachs at various turkey-eating competitions across the US. Normally, the event will involve eating as much of possibly can of a 20-pound turkey in a limited amount of time. Joey Chestnut currently holds the title, managing to gobble down 9lbs (4kg) in just 10 minutes!

Turkey Toss


In Indianapolis, Indiana some high school athletes started a tradition of dressing turkeys (not live ones, don’t worry) in baby onesies, lighting them on fire and throwing them across a football field to see who’s turkey could fly further. Shocker, they are still doing it.

Black Friday

Black Friday | © Powhusku / WikiCommons

The day that shopping is at its most competitive. Just why?

Walking to make room for food

Edinburgh penguins go for a walk | © Tom Page / WikiCommons

Many families eat so much on Thanksgiving that they go for a walk between after dinner to make room for dessert. This takes the popular phrase, “I work out so I can eat” to a whole new excessive level.

Pretending the holiday is American

Canadian flag | © E. Pluribus Anthony / WikiCommons

Lastly, sorry to burst your bubble, but Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday, is not actually American. It was first celebrated in Canada 40 years before we started in the States. Epic fail.

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