And you thought it was just about cutting up that turkey. The carving of the turkey, the saying of the grace, the watching of the football. If a Martian anthropology student asked us to name some cultural rites of Thanksgiving, these would be the first few to come to mind. But students of anthropology know that a society is not always the best judge of its own customs.
The first major sociological study of Thanksgiving appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research in 1991. The authors conducted in-depth interviews with people about their experiences of the holiday. They also had 100 students take detailed fieldnotes on their Thanksgiving celebrations, supplemented by photographs. The data analysis revealed some common events in the fieldnotes that people rarely remarked on in the interviews. Here are some Thanksgiving rituals you might not realize are rituals: