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This Is How Thanksgiving Is Different Across the Country

From college basketball to lobster, these are the different Thanksgiving traditions around the U.S.

The typical Thanksgiving features three things: family, food, and football. But take a peek into the country's diverse regions, and you'll notice stark differences—everything from how and when food is prepared, to what revelers do before and after chowing down. To shed light on how Thanksgiving is celebrated in different parts of the country, we've rounded up the recipes, traditions, and entertainment choices specific to different states.

Rockland, Maine: Lobster Dinner

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In Maine and some other New England states, like Vermont, lobster is considered a must-have on Thanksgiving. New Englanders might be hewing to tradition, because, according to a History Channel report, lobster and other crustaceans were likely eaten at the first Thanksgiving feast.

Plymouth, Massachusetts: National Day of Mourning

National Day of Mourning thanksgiving facts

Plymouth, Massachusetts—home to the very first Thanksgiving—holds the National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving every year. The day is an annual protest to remind the public about the suffering of Native Americans following the Pilgrims' arrival in 1620. Native Americans in New England started the tradition in 1970.

Jackson, Mississippi: "Dressing"

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The great Thanksgiving debate: Is it "stuffing," or is it "dressing"? Well, according to The Huffington Post, though you may know the dish as "stuffing" (and refuse to accept anything else as fact), the South refers to this starchy favorite as "dressing." Oh, and fun fact: Mississippi is the state with the most searches for "dressing" recipes.

Dallas, Texas: Dallas Cowboys Football Game

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Texas and other Southern states tend to eat their Thanksgiving feast during the early afternoon hours, so that they're done by game time. The Dallas Cowboys play every Thanksgiving. According to The Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Cowboys' first time hosting a game on the holiday was in 1966, when a crowd of 82,259 fans (a new record for the time) showed up. The Cowboys have hosted a Thanksgiving home game almost every year since then, creating a Turkey Day tradition that millions of fans have embraced.

Detroit, Michigan: Detroit Lions Football Game

detroit lions thanksgiving

Michigan is home to the Detroit Lions—the other, non-Cowboys team that hosts a home game every Thanksgiving—giving their fans something to look forward to every year. Cheering for the Lions on Thanksgiving is a favorite Turkey Day pastime of Michigan (and the Midwest as a whole).

Anchorage, Alaska: Great Alaska Shootout

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Though football is traditionally viewed as the ultimate Thanksgiving sport, Alaskans tend to watch a different type of game on Thanksgiving: basketball. The Great Alaska Shootout is a college basketball tournament held on Thanksgiving in Anchorage every year. Fans flock to Anchorage or tune in on TV in order to get their sports fix, since they don't have a professional football team to cheer for.

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Spicy Thanksgiving Dinner

pumpkin empenadas thanksgiving

States with Spanish and Mexican influences, like New Mexico and Arizona, tend to quite literally spice things up on Thanksgiving by making the traditional Thanksgiving foods spicier. If you spend Thanksgiving in Santa Fe, for instance, don't be surprised if you're served a chile-rubbed turkey. The region is also known for including delicious local delicacies, like pumpkin empanadas, in their Thanksgiving day festivities.

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee: Thanksgiving Night Fireworks

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Tennessee celebrates Thanksgiving with an explosive tradition usually saved for the Fourth of July. The Titanic Museum—one of the town's major attractions—puts on an annual Thanksgiving night fireworks show. According to the city's website, it's Pigeon Forge's largest fireworks event of the year.

Honolulu, Hawaii: Thanksgiving Luau

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Hawaiian luaus are often held on Thanksgiving day. The celebration usually features poke appetizers, and taro side dishes. The traditional Thanksgiving turkey is usually swapped for a main dish of kalua pig.

Austin, Texas: Deep-Fried Turkey

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Texas and other states in the South maintain the turkey tradition, but add a twist by deep frying it. Other Southern staples include bacon, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, a generous batch of cherished sweet tea, and, for dessert, sweet potato pie. Also, Southerners add bacon in just about any dish they can, including dressing (not stuffing!).

Dana Point, California: Turkey Trot

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The West Coast is all about soaking up the sun on Thanksgiving. These states take advantage of the golden coast's perfect weather by incorporating physical activities, like running, into Thanksgiving festivities. California hosts turkey trots all around the state, but one of the country's largest Thanksgiving Day races is held in Dana Point, California. The event's slogan? "Run the race before you stuff your face." Proceeds benefit the Dana Point Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9934 and other charities. What better way to give back?

Indianapolis, Indiana: Persimmon Pudding

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Indiana is known for putting a spin on dessert by taking advantage of a locally grown fruit and serving persimmon pudding during Thanksgiving.

Baltimore, Maryland: Sauerkraut Side

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And Baltimore, Maryland is known for having a side dish of sauerkraut on the Thanksgiving table. Sure, that may sound a bit odd to outsiders, but it's a testament to the city's deep German heritage.

Kansas City, Kansas: Country Club Plaza Lighting Ceremony

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Every Thanksgiving, Kansas City celebrates with a Christmas lighting ceremony to get ready for the next holiday. The annual lighting ceremony features live music, fireworks, and a "switch flipping" ceremony that leaves the Country Club Plaza decorated with a whopping 80 miles of colorful Christmas lights.

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