Does Your Family Have a Holiday Tradition?

For many, Thanksgiving is about eating delicious food, gathering with family and friends, and reflecting on what you are thankful for. But have you ever heard the story of how this quintessentially American Holiday came to be? It might surprise you.

It is not as simple as a “First Thanksgiving” story of native people and colonists. It was during the Civil War that Abraham Lincoln successfully declared Thanksgiving a federal holiday. In 1863 the country was divided and at war. President Lincoln invited the country to honor the Thanksgiving holiday and think about “healing the wounds of the nation.”

There was no common pumpkin pie or turkey yet, so where did these traditions come from? They came from us, and the generations who came before us! Each generation shares things with the next. Whether it is the secret spice in the pumpkin pie, or the tamale recipe passed down for generations; we are all a part of shaping the next American tradition.  

Does your family have a tradition? We hope you will share it with us, and help us tell the story of the making of an American tradition!

The Tenement Museum is launching its inaugural podcast series, 'How To Be American', early in the New Year. Keep an eye on our social media in the coming weeks for more information. 

Related Content


Your story

Help us tell a more complete story of American immigration and migration by contributing a family object story to the collection.