With only a few days until Thanksgiving, folks are rushing to make last second preparations so they can get the most out of the little time they get to rest and/or spend time with their families. It’s one of the few times a year that many Americans get a chance to leave their hectic work lives.
On top of the historical nature of the holiday and general feeling of thanks we’re supposed to have, there’s one bizarre tradition that’s become a staple of this holiday week. That is, the presidential pardoning of the turkey.
As reported at the New York Post, as has been the case for decades now, a nice and plump turkey will be making its television debut on Tuesday to receive an honor few have ever known–a presidential pardon.
Every year before Thanksgiving, one star turkey and its back-up (wingman) will avoid being baked or fried and instead get treated like royalty. They’re shipped off to DC where they spend the night in a luxury hotel near the White House, get named, and strut their stuff in front of the national media while meeting the president.
The tradition follows that the president will playfully spare both their lives and send them off to a park or college campus, rather to the dinner plate.
While the origin of the tradition is hotly debated, many historians believe Abraham Lincoln was first to take pity on a fattened up turkey because his young son begged him to do so.
In December 1863, local poultry farmers gave a turkey to the infamous president to eat, but before it could be slaughtered, Lincoln’s 9-year-old son, Tad, took a liking to it, according to Evan Phifer, a research historian for the White House Historical Association.
“Tad grew fond of the turkey,” he said. “He treated it like a pet.”
Abe noticed Tad had named the bird Jack and trained it to follow him around the White House grounds, so he sat him down to explain what was to become of his feathery friend.
A journalist from the period named Noah Brooks claimed that while Lincoln explained things, Tad began crying and said, “I can’t help it. He’s a good turkey, and I don’t want him killed!” In response to his son’s attachment to the bird, Lincoln granted it a “pardon”
“Tad interceded on behalf of the [bird’s] life,” Brooks wrote in a book in 1865. “His plea was admitted and turkey’s life spared.”
Regardless of how it actually came to be, the event has become an opportunity for the president to earn some goodwill from the nation, as its entirely apolitical and a just a silly tradition altogether. It’s a time where the more human side of the president can be shown in a situation that’s devoid of political baggage. Hopefully, the media will reign itself in this year, and not try and turn the innocuous event into a chance to grandstand against President Trump.
Source: New York Post