Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away.  And while Christmas can tend to overshadow Thanksgiving a bit, there are still many who love the holiday and all of its traditions.  It’s a day that most Americans celebrate with food.  And when it comes to the South… we love some good Southern cooking! Another thing you’ll find? Great Southern Thanksgiving traditions!

Holiday Stress

Unlike Christmas, Thanksgiving is a holiday that doesn’t involve the stress of gift-giving.  But depending on how you were raised, and if you’re hosting Thanksgiving, there might be some stress when it comes to preparing the spread.  There’s a lot that goes into any Thanksgiving meal. You have the planning of what to cook, grocery shopping, timing out when everything needs to be cooked… And of course, the presentation of it all.

The Presentation

Some families use special dishes for their Thanksgiving dinner.  Others really go all out on table décor. While some even plan out a day of fun activities and games to enjoy as a family.

And you can’t forget about the meme that’s gone around quite a bit around the holidays about what outfit you’ll wear to the living room! But let’s be honest, for a holiday that’s food-centered, just give us some good stretchy pants! It’s all about comfort.

Southern Thanksgiving Traditions

Every family has their own traditions when it comes to any holiday. Of course, these vary for a lot of reasons.  It could be based on which region or state someone came from.  But it can also be based on religious beliefs or simply history of the family.

When it comes to the South though, there are definitely some traditions that are more common.  Below are some of the traditions we compiled from Southern Living, and a fun “10 Ways To Know You’re Having A Southern Thanksgiving” post from HuffPost.

  • Timing

    There are many Southern families who are also huge football fans.  Those families often plan the timing of their Thanksgiving meal around the big football games of the day.

    Two men with foam hand and baseball equipment

    Photo: gpointstudio / iStock / Getty Images

  • Turkey and Dressing

    Pretty sure for most Southerners, the type of meat served isn’t the most important. Although turkey is pretty traditional for Thanksgiving, for Southerners, you gotta have the dressing.

    Thanksgiving dinner showing turkey cranberry sauce and other

    Photo: bhofack2 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

    And yes, it’s DRESSING… not stuffing. Even if it was “stuffed” in the turkey, it’s called dressing. And the most traditional dressing is cornbread dressing.  But apparently some areas have oyster dressing and shrimp and grits dressing…

    And when it comes to preparing the turkey, Southerners may take a different approach to cooking it.  We’re in the South, where we love fried food.  So it only makes sense that we’d deep-fry our turkey right? There are also people who do the “turducken”- a chicken stuffed into a duck, stuffed into a turkey.  Then some have adapted beer can chicken and used that method for preparing the turkey.

    Deep Fried Thanksgiving Turkey

    Photo: barr5557 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

  • The Blessing

    The blessing, giving thanks, saying grace… chances are, at a Southern Thanksgiving, someone is going to be asked to do the prayer before everyone dives in. A lot of times it’s an elder in the family.

    Saying The Blessing

    Photo: Getty Images

  • Casserole Upon Casserole

    At a Southern Thanksgiving dinner, there’s bound to be at least two (but probably more) casseroles.  It could be sweet potato, broccoli, green bean or some other variety of casserole. And chances are, one of the recipes is going to be a special recipe passed down through the family.  Or someone in the family is the ONLY person allowed to make it because they make it better!

    Homemade Sweet Potato Casserole

    Photo: bhofack2/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

  • Side Items

    The cranberry sauce is more than likely a staple at a Southern Thanksgiving. But you’ll also find other popular Southern sides like deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, or macaroni and cheese.

    Thanksgiving food

    Photo: Jupiterimages / Getty Images

  • Salads

    The “salad” you may be thinking of isn’t what we mean here.  Instead, these are congealed salads, made with things like Jell-O, fruit, marshmallows, etc.  In fact, my dish to bring each year is “Watergate Salad”– Cool Whip, crushed pineapple, pecans, mini marshmallow, and pistachio pudding mix.

    Watergate Salad

    Watergate Salad
    Photo: lauraag / iStock / Getty Images Plus

  • You Can't Forget The PIE!

    There are many great pie recipes, and perhaps there’s a family recipe that’s a must at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner.  And pumpkin and apple pies are classic for Thanksgiving.  Sweet potato pie is also popular in the South.  But where it’s really at? Pecan Pie!

    Pecan pie with slice removed, table scene over wood

    Photo: jenifoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

  • Family Gathering

    These days it can be harder to get the whole family together, whether it’s distance or work.  Many Southern families will bring the entire extended family together.  While others simply keep it to their immediate family.

    Happy father serving Thanksgiving turkey to his extended family at dining table.

    Photo: Drazen Zigic / iStock / Getty Images Plus

  • New Traditions

    As lives change, so do traditions.  Old ones fade away, and new ones are made.  In my family, my mom started a tradition many years ago.  Anyone who comes to her house for Thanksgiving must write what they are thankful for on the table cloth before they leave.  We are now on at least our second table cloth I believe.  It’s a beautiful way to remember milestones throughout the years.  And it also reminds us who joined us for Thanksgiving each year.  It can be a bit bittersweet, as some of those people are no longer with us.  But we still get to cherish those precious memories!

    Another thing I started a few years ago at any family holiday gathering is taking selfies with each of my family members.  One at a time! It’s fun to see how we change throughout the years!


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