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9 Thanksgiving Traditions That You Only See in Wisconsin

by Sarah Puckett Nov 21, 2018

Thanksgiving is upon us, and people around the country are preparing to celebrate with traditions going back generations. In Wisconsin, our traditions often pay homage to our Scandinavian and German influences, our grandparents’ recipes, and our favorite pastimes. Here are nine Thanksgiving traditions that can only be found in Wisconsin.

1. Deer hunting with the family

The alarm goes off hours before sunrise. You pull on layers of warm clothes and your orange hat and vest. You head into the woods with your uncles, grandfather, dad, and cousins. You each climb a tree stand and wait quietly. Everyone returns to the house in time for a late breakfast, ready to spend the day watching football and cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

2. Cheering for the Packers even if they’re not playing

You don your best green and gold, even if the Packers aren’t playing. You know exactly who you want to win based on what gives the Packers the best chance of winning the division. The whole family’s into it and even grandma yells at the TV a few times.

3. Enjoying Door County cherries

Whether it’s sipping on grandpa’s homemade cherry bounce or baking a cheesecake for dessert, cherries from Door County are a requirement for a good Thanksgiving feast.

4. Decorating for fall

As soon as you took down the Halloween decorations, the Thanksgiving ones went up in their place. Garlands of faux fall foliage line the windows and a porcelain turkey-shaped candy dish sits on the coffee table.

5. Frying the turkey

Legend has it that Wisconsinites were the first to stick a beer can in a turkey and fry it. Whether that’s true or not, you know it’s still the best way to cook Thanksgiving’s main course.

6. Preparing German or Scandinavian side dishes

If your family is Scandinavian, lefse and lutefisk accompany your turkey dinner and you snack on some raspberry kringles during the day. If your family has a German heritage, Thanksgiving dinner includes heaps of buttery cabbage and sausage. And no matter who your ancestors were, everyone loves a German potato salad.

7. Indulging in jello salad

This sweet side is a precursor to dessert, and the best way to eat your fruits and veggies on Thanksgiving. The deliciousness of fruit and carrots suspended in gelatin is one that only Wisconsinites can appreciate.

8. Snacking on pickled eggs

If you’re hungry before the turkey is ready, a pickled egg, with its salt-and-vinegar kick, will satiate your cravings until dinner is ready.

9. Getting ready for Christmas

As soon as Thanksgiving dinner is over, it’s time to start thinking about the next holiday. Thanksgiving night is the time to snuggle up together before bed with a classic Christmas movie and start decorating the tree.

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