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Thanksgiving Traditions at Top US Universities

Thanksgiving Traditions at Top US Universities

Thanksgiving is one of America’s proudest traditions, an excuse to eat too much food, drink too much alcohol and get thoroughly confused by the rules of American football. Oh, and have a couple of family arguments, of course.

While the federal holiday is usually a chance for students to take time off classes to relax with their families and friends, many universities have their own Thanksgiving traditions to help both domestic and international students kick off the festivities and enjoy a holiday that’s as American as apple (or pumpkin) pie.

Read on to discover some of the best Thanksgiving traditions at top US universities…

Ohio State University Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner

Ohio State University has been hosting their annual Thanksgiving dinner for nearly 30 years. It initially started as a small gathering for students unable to make it home for the holidays, but this year an estimated 1,600 people will attend, including students, faculty, staff and their families.

The school claims that a staggering 650 pounds of turkey, 30 gallons of gravy, 432 pounds of both green beans and corn, 320 pounds of corn bread and 2,000 slices of pie will be served at the dinner!

Spirituality Development Month, Carnegie Mellon University

While Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, Carnegie Mellon University devotes the month of November to spirituality, showcasing the religious and interfaith initiatives and organizations at the university.

They offer two Thanksgiving lunches in mid-November for students of all faiths, including the Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner and Friendsgiving. These meals are a chance for students to sit down with those of different faiths and appreciate the diversity of the college.

Turkey Trot, Lehigh University

Lehigh University

You would be forgiven for thinking the Turkey Trot involves feathered friends gobbling around campus, but in fact it’s a 2.6 mile run around Lehigh University’s campus, strictly for human participants (around 400 to 600 annually).

It marks the end of Lehigh’s ‘Spirit Week’ and runners can enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner afterwards, a chance for both staff and students to refuel.

March to Kreiderheim

One of the more unusual Thanksgiving traditions at a US university is over 50 years old. The March to Kreiderheim happens when Lebanon Valley College’s football team beat their arch-rivals Albright College in a pre-Thanksgiving game. If Lebanon are victorious, hundreds of students march to the college president’s home (Kreiderheim) to petition for an extra day off over Thanksgiving break – unsurprisingly, their request is usually granted!

Project Feast, University of Maryland

The University of Maryland medical school (along with a variety of other professional schools) hosts an annual Thanksgiving feast for the homeless community of the surrounding area. As well as providing food such as turkey, stuffing and pies, the school also arranges clothing, toiletry and food drives in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

Students can volunteer on the various committees (such as food, publicity, shelters, donations, logistics & volunteers and legal), cook a turkey and/or volunteer on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving at Home, Yale University

Yale University

A popular Thanksgiving tradition at many American universities, including Yale University, is offering international students the experience of a traditional Thanksgiving meal with an American host family.

Hosts come from a range of backgrounds with their own traditions, meaning you’re sure to have a day unlike any you’ve experienced before. The program is only open to international students and scholars and their families, and it always reaches maximum capacity, with hosts opening their homes to international students who want a day full of food and fun.  

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Written by Julia Gilmore
Julia is the Assistant Editor for TopUniversities, publishing articles for students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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