8 of the Oldest American Traditions That Are Still Carried Out Today
The national Thanksgiving turkey presentation
Before Thanksgiving, Americans celebrate a ceremony at the White House every year, which involves “pardoning” a live domestic turkey by the President of the United States. This tradition first took place in 1863.
According to White House History, White House reporter Noah Brooks wrote in a dispatch, “A live turkey had been brought home for the Christmas dinner, but [Lincoln’s son Tad] interceded on behalf of its life. … [Tad’s] plea was admitted and the turkey’s life spared.”
The national Thanksgiving turkey presentation was made official in 1989 by George H.W. Bush.