Weirdest American Holiday Traditions

Presidential Turkey Pardon

This goofy tradition got its start with Abraham Lincoln in 1863 – it’s said that his son Tad pleaded with him to let their holiday turkey go instead of eating it, so he granted it clemency and let it live. Since then, many people have sent the sitting President turkeys out of either patriotism or a sense of fun, and they were always eaten with gusto.

In the latter half of the 20th century, lobbying organizations working on behalf of the poultry industry would send the President or his family turkeys for the holidays, and by the 1970s, these turkeys would often be sent to a hobby farm or petting zoo, as it made for a better photo op. In 1989, George H.W. Bush was the first to issue a formal “pardon” to his turkey, and the tradition has stuck.

Dennis Govoni / Getty Images

Hallmark Christmas Movies

Many people love the holidays because they feel that they represent a simpler time when we were able to spend more carefree time with our family. Many beloved holiday movies are tried-and-true favorites for this reason – they tell a simple story with a positive message and end with all the characters realizing the true meaning of the holiday and living happily ever after.

Recent movies put out by the Hallmark channel have tried to recreate this feeling, and are enjoyed by many because they’re so simple and positive – even if they’re extremely poorly written. They may not be the most interesting movies, but they are quite popular.

Fabio Balbi / Shutterstock

Pumpkin Chucking

If you’ve never heard of pumpkin chucking, or punkin chunkin, depending on your region, you’re missing out on a uniquely American experience. Pumpkin chucking is a competition to see who can toss a pumpkin the furthest distance, using anything from a trebuchet to a cannon.

The World Championship Punkin Chunkin has been held since 1986 in Delaware and is a huge community event with multiple categories including Air Cannon, Trebuchet, Catapult, and Human Powered. There are lots of rules to govern pumpkin chucking, but the most important is that a pumpkin has to remain whole until it hits the ground; if it bursts mid-air, it’s known as ‘pie’ (as in, pie in the sky). It’s a ridiculous spectacle, but there is something pretty fun about seeing a very un-aerodynamic pumpkin flying through the air.

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