The Most Bizarre Thanksgiving Traditions

With Thanksgiving coming up, many are getting ready for their family's traditions. Whether it's fighting at the dinner table, passing out in front of the TV while watching the parade, or going around saying what you're grateful for this year, everyone has their traditions to keep up.

True to form, however, not all Thanksgiving traditions have such a nostalgic feel to them. Some are just downright weird.

There's no more bizarre Thanksgiving tradition than the one officially sanctioned by the government. No, it is not the federal holiday — that's amazing. Instead, it's the annual Presidential Turkey Pardon. Everyone calls it the Turkey Pardon, but it's officially called the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. Culture Trip wrote the tradition had been around since the 1940s, but it wasn't until 1989 that it became an annual tradition. People have been giving presidents turkeys for a while, and they would either turn them away or just not have them slaughtered. It wasn't until Ronald Reagan joked that he'd pardon a turkey instead of answering a question about the Iran-Contra affair did the idea take root, reported MSNBC. His successor, George H. W. Bush, made the event official in 1989. Since then, the turkey pardon became an opportunity for fun in the often very tense and staid White House.

Presidents get to joke around during the pardon. Plus, they get to save one (or two, there's usually a spare) turkeys who get to live the rest of their admittedly short life in Mount Vernon, George Washington's estate.

Someone invented a new sport

Unfortunately, not all turkeys could be pardoned. Many more end up frozen and in a grocery aisle. But not to worry, people have found a way to make a tradition out of frozen turkey too.

In 1988, Derrick Johnson, a grocery clerk at a Newport Beach branch of Lucky's grocery store, invented turkey bowling, according to People. He told the magazine he saw a manager slide a turkey on the floor and accidentally knocked down a bottle of soda. Thus the idea was born. He appointed himself commissioner of the Poultry Bowlers Association and set about organizing the sport. Since then, people have taken to the sport and have made turkey bowling into a tradition. Johnson claimed that the association had about 2,000 members back in 1990.

To play turkey bowling, one needs to be playing in a grocery aisle. They have to choose a sizeable turkey, usually a 12-pounder and aim it towards 10 unopened soda bottles acting as bowling pins. Though some people still play turkey bowling, it is generally frowned upon by grocery managers, particularly if you decided to play around Thanksgiving when harried shoppers are trying to find a few more dishes to serve their families.

A food abomination

Yes, most Thanksgiving traditions have to do with turkeys; we just have to live with it. And that is why there's something called a Turkey Trot. No, it's not a race for unassuming turkeys to walk down a street. The Las Vegas Turkey Trot is an annual charity fun run, explained Trek America. It's a three to five-mile run where people run to raise money. And, as Thrillist wrote, most people who participate in the Turkey Trot do it in style. The majority of runners like to dress up as turkeys. After all, what better way to burn off all those calories and all that tryptophan than by dressing up as the thing you just inhaled.

Alas, dressing up as turkeys isn't even the worst thing we as people do to them. Sometimes we light them up on fire and throw them to see how far they can go. Welcome to the Turkey toss, an annual tradition in Indianapolis recalls Thrillist. It's a waste of food, but some participants don't just toss the turkey; they put baby clothes on them and set them on fire before throwing them. Very concerning but highly entertaining.

But nothing will be more bizarre than the abomination people call a Turducken. It's turkey, stuffed with duck, that's stuffed with chicken. Even though there are dozens of delicious food on a table, people just want to play with their food. And hey, as Trek America said, some people like it. 

You might think your family's Thanksgiving traditions are weird, but at least they're not this strange. If you want a more sedate tradition that doesn't involve arguing with your parents, there's always the Santa Barbara Zoo's adorable tradition of animals playing with pumpkins. Enjoy.