7 unusual Thanksgiving traditions

This week, Americans across the globe will celebrate Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is an annual holiday marking the harvest festival which dates back to 1621, and it’s usually celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

If you’re studying abroad in the USA, join us as we explore some unusual (and not-so-unusual) traditions during this holiday.

The Turkey Pardoning

This White House tradition has captured the imagination of the public for years.

There are so many myths as to how this tradition began, but the basics of the event is that the President would ‘pardon’ or ‘spare’ the life of a live turkey.

Obamas Turkey Pardon | Thanksgiving traditions

The turkey is then taken back to the farm to live out the rest of it’s life.


You can’t have Thanksgiving without a Thanksgiving feast!

So many families across America have a variety of ways of cooking their meals – one way is Turducken! This is where a duck is stuffed with a chicken, to then be stuffed into a turkey.

Turducken | Thanksgiving traditions

That is one epic way to cook a turkey!

Breaking a wishbone for luck

When eating your meal, look out for the wishbone in the turkey, as this will bring you luck.

Turkey Wishbone | Thanksgiving traditions

The idea is to break the wish bone with a family member or friend and make a wish. The one with the biggest half will have their wish come true.

Black Friday

This is the day following Thanksgiving. It’s regarded as the beginning of Christmas shopping, where retailers will open their shops as early as 4am, to offer discounts and promotional sales to the shopper.

Black Friday Sales | Thanksgiving traditions

Make sure you get an early night if you want to get a good deal!

Not all traditions are unusual…. Thanksgiving holiday is about spending time with family, friends and giving thanks.

Many volunteer

Charities and soup kitchens across America open their doors to volunteers who have given up their time to feed the homeless during the holidays.

Volunteering to feed the hungry | Thanksgiving traditions

If you’re not able to volunteer your time, you can raise money for these charities or donate food.

Being thankful

Many Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving often give thanks to the year just gone.

Being thankful for their family, friends and good health.

Being Thankful | Thanksgiving traditions

Watching a Football game and Macy’s Day Parade

Whilst the food is being cooked, people gather around the TV to catch the latest football game and watch the famous Macy’s Day Parade.

Macy's Day Parade | Thanksgiving traditions

These are just some of the traditions Americans carry out during the Thanksgiving period. Chip from Vietnam celebrated Thanksgiving whilst studying in the US – explore her blog as she shares her first ever Thanksgiving experience abroad. 

To find out more about INTO Study and studying in the US, head over to our website

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