It is time for Thanksgiving turkey!

Celebrate With Some Unusual Thanksgiving Day Traditions

A national holiday is celebrated in as many ways as there are households in America.

Norman Rockwell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The quintessential Thanksgiving Day celebration is perhaps best portrayed as Norman Rockwell envisioned in his painting, Freedom from Want. Roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and all the fixings are served as families gather around the dinner table, ready to give thanks and feast. Many American families celebrate this time-honored tradition, but some have added new twists in celebrating the big day. Sometimes, the wackier the tradition, the more memorable the holiday.

Frozen Turkey Bowling

While many people settle in to watch football on Thanksgiving Day, others flex their muscles in preparation for turkey bowling. A frozen turkey and unopened plastic bottles of soda serve as a bowling ball and bowling pins. Sometimes, actual bowling pins are used. The frozen bird is flung onto smooth supermarket aisles, slick ice, or slippery sheets of painter’s plastic. Derrick Johnson, a grocery clerk at a Newport Beach Lucky supermarket, laid claim to the idea in 1988. He saw a store manager slide a frozen turkey across the floor that accidentally toppled a bottle of soda. Immediately, Johnson appointed himself as commissioner of the Poultry Bowlers Association and created codified rules and terminology. Some terms he came up with include “fowl line” for foul line, “gobbler” for three strikes in a row, the “Butterball” for a gutterball, and the “wishbone” for a 7-10 split.

Lance Cpl. Hector DeJesus falls while he releases a turkey he was using for Turkey Bowling to help promote the 2011 Commissary Awareness Tour Sept. 26. Marines played multiple games for prizes and there was a drawing for door prizes that ranged from iPods to grills. The event informed Marines and Sailors aboard the air station about benefits available at the commissary.

Flaming Turkey Toss

Great balls of fire! There is turkey toss, and then there is flaming turkey toss. A group of friends from colleges and high schools gathered in Bloomington, Indiana, for the Flaming Turkey Toss competition. A nine-pound turkey for women and a twelve-pound turkey for men were wrapped in onesies and doused in lighter fluid. Each participant took their turn with turkeys aflame, swinging and tossing the bird with all the muster of Olympian athletes. The flying firebird soared into the history books, with the last recorded competition held in 2006. But you never know, maybe this bird will rise once again as a phoenix to soar and light up the night sky.

Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest

Photo: The Great Pumpkin Farm

Pie eating contests are held in communities all over the country leading up to Thanksgiving Day. Some of these contests help benefit the needy. But one pie-eating contest outdoes all the rest, the Great Pumpkin Farm World Hands-Free Pumpkin Pie Eating Championship held in Clarence, New York. Molly Schuyler, a seven-time champion, downed 50 slices of pumpkin pie in 10 minutes, cinching her 2019 win. A small-framed woman, where does she put all that pie?

Turkey Trot

Every year, people participate in a Turkey Trot race held nationwide. Over a million register every year to run, jog, trot, or walk in races with varying distances. Most Turkey Trots take place on Thanksgiving Day, making it the most popular day to race. Running USA has tracked Turkey Trots since 2011 and has seen a steady increase in participation, nearly doubling over the past decade. Young and old alike join in on the race, some proudly donning their gobbler costumes.


Stuff a deboned chicken into a deboned duck and then a deboned turkey, and you’ve created a turducken. This layered poultry dish has found its way to many Thanksgiving Day dinner tables. It is a little unusual as an American turkey day tradition, but the turducken has been around in various combinations since Roman times. In 1807, a French chef published his rôti sans pareil (“roast without equal”) consisting of a bustard (a large grassland bird) stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting, and a garden warbler. Imagine having that as your Thanksgiving Day main course!

I. Englmann, CC BY-SA 3.0

Black Friday Early Lineup

For many years, a big tradition takes place the day after Thanksgiving Day all across America. Thrifty shoppers prepare for Black Friday by saving sales fliers and scheduling their rounds to hit their favorite stores for those must-have items offered at the lowest prices of the year. After a day of feasting, shoppers wake up early Friday morning and make their way to their first stop, sometimes at 2:00 or 3:00 AM. Some shoppers camp in front of stores to be first in line. When the doors fling open, a great rush of people floods the store beelining straightway to get their items. It is actually fun to be a part of that, but be courteous as fights have erupted over must-get toys and electronics.

But times have changed as stores started open their doors at midnight and even on Thanksgiving Day, called Black Thursday, to boost sales. In 2005, Cyber Monday was introduced, and online sales exploded. By 2013, Cyber Week appeared on the scene and continues to grow in popularity. For diehards, you can still get that Black Friday thrill, waking up early and making your way to shop for that special gift amid the hustle and bustle of the official start of the Christmas shopping season.Thanksgiving Day can be celebrated any number of ways, make yours memorable and enjoyable with family and friends. You may even pick up some new traditions like the ones shared in Jimmy Fallon’s favorite tweets: