Thanksgiving Traditions & Memories

Created on Nov 23, 2021 by Kathy Pinna

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and friends. To remember the past and share family stories of traditions.

You've probably spent your whole life with the same traditions on Thanksgiving: Family and friends gathering for turkey, dressing (or stuffing), mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, and whatever else makes your family tradition complete.

All of this is in the spirit of connecting with friends and family, to come together to celebrate and give thanks for the bounty in their lives. Technology may change how we gather and the way we prepare our foods, but the traditions remains the same.

Take a stroll down memory lane - some of these traditions may seem familiar, others may not.

Continue Reading Below
Share and discover the people and places from your past

Family Photos of Thanksgivings in the Past moment please

Hunting, just like his forefathers

[ Click image for details ]

The convenience of a fresh turkey - the legs are handy for hauling?

Sometimes the whole family . . .

[ Click image for details ]
Kendal Destin
21 favorites
shared on 02/24/2013

Got their guns and went out to hunt?

Did you buy your turkey outside at a tobacco auction?

[ Click image for details ]

1939 in Durham, North Carolina


Or did you go out into the woods, brave person?

[ Click image for details ]

1912 - almost 300 years after the first Thanksgiving.

Or perhaps you went to the market?

[ Click image for details ]

This is 1919 - but it's kinda like today's farmer's market . . .

Then there was your local butcher shop . . .

[ Click image for details ]

November 1940: Easier, less time involved, and just around the corner.

But Presidents always get special delivery

[ Click image for details ]

The White House, 1921. This was delivery of a turkey for Warren G. Harding.


Plucking the turkey

[ Click image for details ]

SO happy most of us don't have to do this any more!

Boy, that stove brings back memories!

[ Click image for details ]

That's a 20 lb turkey in a wood stove. Now aren't you thankful for your modern kitchen?

Family arriving

[ Click image for details ]

During WWII, some warriors came home for Thanksgiving. That must have been so special.

1940 - long and skinny bird

[ Click image for details ]

No oversized breasts here! Even turkeys today look different.

Coming out of the kitchen

[ Click image for details ]
Susan Fisher
9 favorites
shared on 11/09/2011

1960 - you can just smell this turkey with a color photo!

Almost time to eat!

[ Click image for details ]

1942. The carving of the bird - and someone always steals a piece while it's being carved.


Go ahead - dig in!

[ Click image for details ]

1942 Pennsylvania - everyone taking some of the delicious food.

Family, food, crowded around the table . . .

[ Click image for details ]

That's Thanksgiving whether it's the 1950s or the 21st century.

Some people always get the folding chairs

[ Click image for details ]

This is 1951 but it's always true.

And don't forget the kid's table!

[ Click image for details ]

It always felt good when you graduated to sitting with the adults. Of course, then you couldn't play with the food.

After all that food, your dessert is waiting . . .

[ Click image for details ]

Pies, cakes . . . the pounds are adding up.

Okay, this isn't a Pilgrim tradition but . . .

[ Click image for details ]

In 1941, stores closed for football games on Thanksgiving. Many don't close at all anymore. But then, we have big tvs for the big game now.

But the cafe didn't close in 1940 Virginia . . .

[ Click image for details ]

And you could get the whole dinner for 60 cents - without days of cooking on your part.

The Thanksgiving Maskers

[ Click image for details ]

In the early 20th century, children (especially in New York City) would dress up and beg for change on Thanksgiving. With the introduction of the Macy's Day Parade in the '20's, the Masker tradition merged with Halloween - thus the Halloween we know today.

1910 Maskers

[ Click image for details ]

Newspapers denounced parents who allowed their children to follow this "hooligan" practice.

Maskers scrambling for pennies

[ Click image for details ]

In 1910, a 3/4 ounces candy bar cost 2 cents. Today, the average bar is 1.5 - 1.8 oz and costs north of $1

1902 Thanksgiving Proclamation Act

President Teddy Roosevelt signing the Thanksgiving Proclamation Act in 1902.
[ Click image for details ]

President Franklin Roosevelt (Teddy was his cousin and Eleanor's uncle) moved Thanksgiving from the last Thursday of November to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 to give Americans more time to shop for Christmas!

And in the end, Thanksgiving is all about love

[ Click image for details ]

And the people in our lives. Happy Thanksgiving!

Did you know? The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in November of 1621 when the Wampanoag tribe and the Pilgrims came together for a harvest celebration. The feast, which lasted 3 days, included waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. According to reports, there were 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims who attended. In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a federal holiday of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens" and made it the last Thursday of November. In 1941, FDR proclaimed the 4th Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day - to give citizens more time to shop for Christmas - and this has been the official day ever since.

Have photos that you'd like to see included? Share your photos or click "next page" below to see photos of Native Americans - our partners in thanksgiving.

Blog posts

Back to Top