Untraditional Thanksgiving traditions


(Vicki DeLoach/Flickr)

Some people excitedly arise on Thanksgiving Day to watch the Macy’s parade floats hover over 77th Street with mouths already watering for turkey and pumpkin pie.

Growing up in my house, though, the real excitement always occurred the day before Thanksgiving.

The Wednesday tradition (or the Thanksgiving Eve Tradition, as we sometimes call it) began when my brother and I were in elementary school. Around 9 a.m., we pile into my grandma’s car, shivering from the crisp November morning air. Without fail, she sings the Albuquerque Turkey song as we head toward downtown Worcester.

Our first destination: Culpeppers Bakery, home of ooey-gooey cinnamon buns and tasty eclairs.  The bakery is always bustling on the day before Thanksgiving. Clusters of hungry shoppers gather at display cases, browsing extensive trays of brownies, cookies, pastries and cakes. While there are dozens of options to drool over, we are there for two things only: bread for Thanksgiving dinner and warm cinnamon buns for Thanksgiving Eve breakfast.

The next time we pile into the car, our fingers still sticky with frosting, we are headed to a less inviting location — Fairway Beef. In the frigid, foul-smelling meat market, we wait in line for beef, the prime ingredient in grandma’s famous Thanksgiving stuffing.

However silly or simple our pre-Thanksgiving meat and cinnamon bun run may be, it holds a special place in my heart.

Here are some other not-so-traditional Thanksgiving traditions shared by students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Looking sharp for Thanksgiving

Boudicca Hawke, a junior at UMass Amherst, isn’t setting the table with knives on Thanksgiving — she’s throwing them.

Hawke’s family gathers in her mother’s yard on turkey day, where she has a 25-yard throwing range. Her brother, sisters, mother and friends throw knives and axes at three targets. The winner (whoever has the most points) walks away with the first piece of pie.

(Natasha Reigneau-Hawke/Amherst Wire)

Hawke has been participating in this tradition since she was nine years old.

“I know it may seem strange, but it’s a fun activity that all my friends and I enjoy,” Hawke said.

Pie day

Liam Reilly, a UMass sophomore, has a full house the day before Thanksgiving. On Wednesday, it’s pie day at the Reilly house. Reilly and his siblings invite their friends over to bake pies to take home for Thanksgiving.

(Terence Reilly/Amherst Wire)
(Terence Reilly/Amherst Wire)

Each guest gets a choice of what kind of pie they would like to make: pumpkin, apple or pecan. The whole day is organized by Reilly’s father, who begins planning the event about two weeks in advance. Reilly’s father supplies all the ingredients. All the planning is worth it when two dozen people are socializing and rolling out dough in the kitchen.

(Terence Reilly/Amherst Wire)
(Terence Reilly/Amherst Wire)

“It’s really nice to come back from college and see everyone you haven’t seen in awhile and catch up and make some pie,” Reilly said.

Show me the money bread

Tyler Ramsey, a UMass graduate student, looks forward to his aunt’s money bread every Thanksgiving. His aunt bakes a braided bread, with four coins hidden inside: a quarter, a dime, a nickel and a penny.

Everyone at the table takes a turn slicing a piece of the bread. They don’t have to eat the bread; they search inside for one of the hidden coins.

According to the tradition, if you get the quarter, you will stumble upon riches in the next year, Ramsey said. If you get the nickel, you will be happy. The dime symbolizes healthiness and the penny means a year of luck.

“I don’t think my family believes in the superstition that finding a coin in a loaf of bread actually forecasts positive things to come,” Ramsey said. “But it is a really good opportunity for the whole family to gather around the table for a fun game of chance!”

Email Nicole at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Nicole_DeFeudis

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