It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is less than a week away, which means many of us will be partaking in annual Turkey Day traditions. Where do some of these traditions and treats come from, though? Are they familial and have an origin story, or is it something you’ve just always done? Let’s look at some of the most popular traditions and their beginnings.
Football on Thanksgiving: football on Thanksgiving dates back to the 1800s (according to Wikipedia) because it was a day that many had off from work. Princeton and Yale started their own annual Turkey Day football game tradition at the same time with many other universities following suit. As far as the NFL is concerned, games on Thanksgiving go back to both the AAFL and the AFC before they merged into the NFL. One of the most notable Thanksgiving games, dubbed Franksgiving, took place between the Steelers and the Eagles while they were also considering their move to become the Steagles during WWII.
Cranberry sauce: the history of cranberry sauce, or at least how we know it to be today, is a little less known. According to Martha Stewart, “There are reports of what we consider traditional cranberry sauce—which requires stewing the cranberries in water and sugar—dating back to the 1630s. By the 1860s, cranberry sauce was so ingrained as an American dish, that General Ulysses S. Grant reportedly ordered that cranberries be served to soldiers as part of their Thanksgiving meal.” While cranberries were probably not part of the original Thanksgiving meal, there is no doubt this dish has become a requirement in many American homes.
Stuffing vs. Dressing: this one is easy; it depends on your location! While stuffing originally meant what was quite literally stuffed inside of the turkey, today it seems to be a term that people use outside of the Southern states. So, it doesn’t seem to matter how you make the stuffing (or dressing!), just where you live!