A Forgotten Thanksgiving Tradition

Posted November 22, 2016 by Amanda | No Comment

As we get ready to enjoy Thanksgiving with family, we are reminded of the many traditions that come with the holiday. From the huge family feast of turkey and stuffing to football and even the annual Thanksgiving Day parade, traditions help make the holiday we spend with family special. But there’s an old American tradition that many may not be aware of from a time when Thanksgiving looked a little different than today.

A Forgotten Thanksgiving Tradition

Image: Library of Congress

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the traditional American Thanksgiving looked a little like Halloween. As part of their Thanksgiving celebrations, people of all ages would paint their faces and dress up in masks and costumes.

A Forgotten Thanksgiving Tradition

Image: MyHeritage SuperSearch

These Thanksgiving maskers danced through the streets wearing their masks and cloth veils while rattling noise makers. Adults often participated in elaborate masquerade balls, while children rang doorbells to beg for pennies or candy.

A Forgotten Thanksgiving Tradition

Image: Library of Congress

This practice was most popular in New York, where Thanksgiving Day was also known as Ragmuffin Day and “ragmuffin parades” were a common place. Children dressed themselves as “ragmuffins,” wearing oversized clothes and rags, to ask neighbors, “Anything for Thanksgiving?” In response, they would be treated to pennies, apples or little candies.

A Forgotten Thanksgiving Tradition

Image: Library of Congress

By the 1930s, the tradition began to fall out of favor. The Great Depression left many without anything to hand out. Officials who disapproved of the practice began to discourage the tradition of children begging for treats. The tradition faded, and by the 1950′s, Thanksgiving returned to the familiar family-oriented holiday we know today.

What do you think of this old Thanksgiving tradition?

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Social Media Coordinator at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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