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11 Retro Thanksgiving Traditions That Have Become Obsolete

These now outdated Turkey Day traditions didn't quite withstand the test of time.

While you won't be able to gather with all your friends and family this Thanksgiving, your celebratory feast of savory dishes and classic pies will still be there. And who knows? You could even create some new traditions this year. Or maybe you want to try out some Thanksgiving rituals that harken all the way back to the holiday's inception.

As is the case with all storied traditions, they often adapt to the times, morph into something wholly different, or fade away entirely. Even once-classic Thanksgiving customs from our parents' and grandparents' generations have since fallen by the wayside. We still ceremoniously carve up a golden-brown bird and sit around the TV watching football or the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, while children make handprint turkeys to put on the refrigerator—but countless other traditions have disappeared from the annual festivities.

Read on to see some Thanksgiving customs that didn't age so well, and for more on how one tradition will look different in 2020, here are All the Ways Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Will Be Different This Year.

Read the original article on Best Life.

Sending Thanksgiving greeting cards

middle aged white woman Woman Reading a greeting card at the mailbox
Christine Glade / Shutterstock

We're accustomed to sending and receiving annual Christmas cards, and kids still love to trade Valentine's Day cards with friends each February. But at the turn of the 20th century, people also used to send Thanksgiving greeting cards featuring quaint illustrations of pumpkins, pilgrims, turkeys, and seasonal sentiments of thanks. And for more traditions to add to your Thanksgiving celebration, here are 13 Fun Thanksgiving Games Perfect for the Whole Family.

Having a kids' table

Portrait of happy girl sitting at festive table and looking at camera

Maybe there wasn't any room at the dining table, or maybe the adults just needed a break, but for many years, it was not uncommon to separate the two generations during Thanksgiving dinner. A discrete, and often tiny arrangement, the kids' table was a place for siblings, cousins, and anyone else without a valid driver's license to break bread in a parent-free setting. A 2018 survey conducted by Juicy Juice and ORC International, however, indicates that the once popular seating method may be on its last legs: 61 percent of parents now opt to have the entire family seated together.

Using place cards

Autumn holiday Thanksgiving dining with place cards and traditional centerpiece filled with pumpkins and gourds.
Liliboas / iStock

You would expect to see place cards at a wedding reception, otherwise, how would you know which table to sit at? But did you know that it was once pretty common to also see them on the table at Thanksgiving dinner? That's right, these finely scripted labels displaying the names of each family member were trimmed to perfection and placed on the table for the holiday meal. But as you might have already guessed, they have become far less common, as families continue to move away from some of the more formal Thanksgiving traditions, opting instead for a more casual, organically formed affair.

And for more ways to relax with your family on Thanksgiving Day, here are The Best Thanksgiving TV Episodes of All Time.

Using fine china

fine china with orange napkins on Thanksgiving dinner table
Image Source / iStock

Today, the fine and filigree plates, cups, and gravy bowls of a family's china set are rather mysterious. You rarely ever see them, let alone handle or, gasp, eat and drink from them. But decades ago, you did for special occasions—and Thanksgiving dinner was, for many families, the kind of occasion special enough to warrant an appearance by the otherwise elusive chinaware.

Sadly, that seems to be less and less the case. Millennials don't seem to relish the burden of storing boxes of delicate dinnerware. So these days, it's far more common for families to stick with their everyday dishes on Turkey Day.

Using fancy silverware

Antique Silverware Place Setting in a Brown Napkin and Tied with Ribbon on White Backgroun

Just as we brought out the fine china for Thanksgiving, we also rolled out the fancy silverware, which was rarely used on the other 364 days of the year. You guys know what we're talking about—those forks, knives, and spoons that for some reason are too special to be cleaned in the dishwasher.

But with millennials putting an end to the silver inheritance, the era of fancy flatware, too, has come to a close. And who really wants to spend the day polishing great-grandma's sterling silver for one meal when everyday flatware does the job just fine?

And for more on what you shouldn't serve this year, check out This Is the Most Hated Thanksgiving Dish, Survey Says.

Making homemade centerpieces

orange and yellow thanksgiving table centerpiece

Back in the day, no Thanksgiving table was complete without an elaborate homemade centerpiece. Family members of all ages would help construct ornate displays of decorative gourds and seasonal fruit, or perhaps some autumn leaves and garden-clipped flowers.

Today, families are far likelier to set out a bouquet in a seasonal vase or use a clean, sleek arrangement of candles as table decor.

And for more about new and old holiday traditions, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Revisiting the first Thanksgiving

first thanksgiving 1621

Before digging into the turkey and stuffing, families once made it an annual tradition to retell the story of the first Thanksgiving. While grade schools covered the basics, a yearly family brush-up on T-Day trivia informed us of details like turkey's absence from the menu; instead, our forebears dined on venison, duck, and oysters.

Today, kids can instantly access the history of Thanksgiving on any number of devices, though we doubt that's what they are reading about when sneaking a peek at their phones during dinner.

Playing football before dinner

Multi-ethnic, multi-generation family members playing a football game together in grandparents' backyard on Thanksgiving Day
fstop123 / iStock

In the countdown of hours leading up to the main event, many families used to work up an appetite for a Thanksgiving feast by tossing around the old pigskin. Fun, feisty, and (we hope) friendly, a pre-dinner family football game kept kids busy and political discussions at bay.

So much Jell-O

Eating Red Jelly or Jello

Some beloved family recipes are carefully preserved and lovingly passed down over generations, while other vintage Thanksgiving recipes are unlikely to appear on modern menus. Fare thee well, Turkey on Jell-O and cranberry surprise.

And for more Thanksgiving sweets that aren't beloved, This Is the Most Hated Thanksgiving Dessert, Survey Says.

Snapping the wishbone

Derek Hatfield/Shutterstock

The wishbone tradition goes back thousands of years: In Ancient Roman times, chicken bones embodied good luck. So, when two people pulled apart a wishbone, the person left with the larger piece was rewarded, in theory, with good luck or a granted wish.

In many households in the 20th century, the breaking of the wishbone was either a hallowed ritual, a corny rite that Uncle Wally insisted he supervise, or an intended event that later found itself lost in the haze of a post-feast food coma. Today, our culture of instant gratification has designated the wishbone ritual to the cultural dustheap: After all, only a dry turkey wishbone will break, and that means having to wait … patiently.

Observing Franksgiving

fdr bobby kennedy

Ah, the family Franksgiving. Ring any bells? Probably not, and here's why. Since the late 19th century, Thanksgiving was traditionally celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Enter former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1939 found himself, and the rest of the country, staring down a Nov. 30 Thanksgiving and a shrunken holiday-shopping calendar. As a solution, FDR moved the holiday up a week to satisfy retailers and bolster the economy. But the country never really got on board with Franksgiving, as it was mockingly referred to, and in late 1941, Congress passed a joint resolution returning the holiday to the fourth Thursday in November—a reminder that some traditions were never meant to be. And for more fun tidbits to share with your table, check out 30 Thanksgiving Facts to Share With Your Family.

Tracy Collins Ortlieb
Tracy Collins Ortlieb is a lifestyle writer. Read more
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