Photo: Ridan Arellano

The United States of Thanksgiving Traditions

Every year on the last Thursday of November, Americans gather around the dinner table with their loved ones for Thanksgiving. Some people travel thousands of miles to see family in their hometown, others gather where they are for a Friendsgiving feast. Food and drinks are the centerpiece of it all. And while turkey gets the most attention, exactly what gets a place on the table - and the traditions around how it’s served - largely depends on what part of the country you’re in.

In the Midwest, casseroles (or hotdishes, if you’re in the Upper Midwest) dominate the sides, while people in Baltimore have a long history of eating sauerkraut with the Thanksgiving turkey. Empanadas are swapped for pies in parts of the Southwest, and barbecue takes over in Texas. And you can’t forget Western classics like frog eye salad and funeral potatoes.

Of course, for all the attention that’s paid to the dishes served, Thanksgiving is really about sharing stories and traditions with the people you love. There’s a family story or regional history behind everything that makes it to the table. All you have to do is ask.

Thanksgiving is a time for sharing all that connects us while also celebrating the idiosyncrasies that makes us special. These are the many ways we celebrate Thanksgiving.

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