Pardon the poultry

by Leah Marten (@leahmarten)

LAST NIGHT President Obama took the opportunity to show off his bad dad jokes as he participated in perhaps one of the strangest traditions held by the US.

Joined by his two daughters Malia and Sasha, Barack Obama celebrated the annual tradition of the presidential pardoning of a live, domestic turkey. He told audiences at the White House, “it is hard to believe this is my seventh year of pardoning a turkey,

“Time flies – even if turkeys don’t.”

A Nicholas White, or Broad breasted turkey, the same bread as Totus Abe
A Nicholas White, or Broad-breasted turkey, the same bread as Totus Abe

Obama declared the 42lb turkey called Abe, “…a free bird.” and, “Totus: turkey of the United States.”

He announced: “America is after all a country of second chances and this turkey has earned a second chance to live out the rest of his life comfortably on 1,000 acres of open land complete with a barn called the ‘White House on TurkeyHill’, which actually sounds pretty good.”

To choose the best bird, 20 of the biggest and most well-behaved turkeys are whittled down to two – one of which is pardoned and given ‘Totus’ status.

Dating back to the ’40s, presidents would occasionally spare birds but since 1989, during George H. W. Bush’s first presidential thanksgiving, it has become an annual tradition.

An American tradition that started in 1621, Thanksgiving originated after Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast. Today it is noted as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The holiday was celebrated by states and colonies separately across America for over two hundred years until President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day to celebrate Thanksgiving every November in 1863.

It has never been confirmed that the pilgrims ate turkey, but the National Turkey Federation claims that around 90% of Americans partake in the holiday tradition of turkey on the table.