Thanksgiving is just two days away and we are very excited for the day of feasting on good food. We look forward to being surrounded by friends and family, as we give thanks. You are likely aware of the history behind the holiday. It is a tale that has been told over and over again. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims, a group of colonists from England, and many leaders from surrounding Native American tribes. The day was a celebratory feast held in the first fall that the Pilgrims were settled in Plymouth colony. It marked a celebration of a successful crop harvest. It was also meant to mark a successful alliance between the Pilgrims and the local Indigenous tribes. Now you may know this piece of history, but have you ever wondered what the history is behind more modern celebrations?
The History Behind Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become a cornerstone of American celebrations of the holiday. The Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City has been hosted by Macy’s, the department store, since 1924. Many parades are held on the holiday in individual cities and towns all over the country. However, Macy’s Parade remains to be by far the largest and most famous. The parade route is 2.5 miles long and it attracts an average of 2 to 3 million spectators who gather to watch the parade live. Millions more gather around televisions at home to watch the televised version of the parade. The parade famously has performances from marching bands, musicians, and current running Broadway shows. The parade is also home to giant balloon floats shaped like cartoon characters from classic shows and movies.
A History of the Presidential Turkey Pardoning
Every year, the president and many state governors hold a turkey pardoning ceremony. During this, they pardon at least one turkey from being slaughtered for the Thanksgiving meal and rather send them to a farm in which they can live out their days peacefully. This tradition is actually one of the holidays newest. The pardoning happened here and there, (mostly done by the First Lady), then became a regular practice during Ronald Regan’s presidency in the 1980s. However, the tradition was not formally solidified into the annual routine until 1989 under President George H.W. Bush.
President Bush was sent a turkey and had animal rights activists picketing outside the White House. He promised the turkey would not be killed and served at mealtime. In a famous speech he said, “Let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table…he’s presented a presidential pardon as of right now.” This was the first ever formal pardoning, and since then it has become an annual tradition done by every subsequent president.