Why Does the POTUS Pardon a Turkey?

November 22, 2016

Well first of all, what does it mean to pardon a turkey? Simply put, it means that that particular turkey won’t get gobbled up on Thanksgiving day! But how did pardoning a turkey become a White House tradition? No one’s quite sure, but what is certain is how they started showing up at the White House. It all started In 1873 when a man named Horace Vose took it upon himself to supply the president with “the noblest gobbler” for Thanksgiving. He continued picking out the best bird for the sitting president for the next 25 years. In 1947, the White House officially started receiving Thanksgiving turkeys from the National Turkey Federation in the Rose Garden — how fancy, right?

Historians (or people who study history) have debated how the presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey actually began. Some thought it was President Harry Truman, but it turns out that he was the first president to receive a turkey, not pardon one. Some have said it was President Abraham Lincoln, but he didn’t pardon a Thanksgiving turkey, rather it was a Christmas turkey and it was because his son loved it too much. So, who gets credit for officially starting the pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey? In 1989, President George H.W. Bush formalized the process and officially offered a presidential pardon to a Thanksgiving turkey. Other presidents have since followed, making pardoning a turkey a pre-Thanksgiving tradition at the White House.

What’s your Thanksgiving tradition? At Xyza, we love spending time with friends and family, and yes, eating a whole lot of turkey! Gobble! Gobble!

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving!