Turkey Day Traditions

By Emily Maag and Siara Sparkman

Three things tend to be consistent with Thanksgiving: spending time with family, giving thanks and eating turkey. 

The traditional turkey is stuffed and roasted, but some students celebrate the holiday through different traditions — whether that be cooking the turkey in a different way or not eating it at all.


Kaitlyn Perry and her family won’t be eating a regular turkey Thursday; they’ll be consuming three birds in one. The sophomore elementary major and her family eat turducken, a chicken stuffed in a duck, which is stuffed in a turkey. 

“You can tell a difference of the types of meat because they look different,” Perry said. “Turducken is in a big dish mixed together and all served up on a platter.”

The tradition began about four years ago and was an instant hit with her family. Perry said the turducken is a Southern tradition and serves 15 to 20 people. 

“There’s always bunches of leftovers, and this is good ol’ country cooking,” Perry said. “It’s awesome, we have so much food.”

After that much food, her family is always ready to take part in another family tradition — naptime. 

“Everyone just kind of finds their way to a couch or a chair, and we all pass out,” she said.


Gabby Arguello’s Thanksgiving festivities the past two years have been a celebration of family and friends. Her mother’s best friend brings her family to dinner — along with turkey tamales. 

When her mom’s friend, who is of Mexican descent, first suggested the turkey tamales, Arguello said she was a bit wary. She liked turkey, and she liked tamales, but she wasn’t sure if she would like the two together.

“Once I had it, it was really good, and now I’d rather have that than regular turkey,” she said.

To go with the tamales, the families have sour cream and pico de gallo. Other than that, they keep with the other traditional side dishes.

Even though it’s a new tradition, Arguello said she hopes it continues.

“I feel like it brings us more together, and it brings our friends together,” Arguello said. “We’re all one big family.”


Derek O’Neal has been a vegetarian for years, but this will be his first Thanksgiving as a vegan. 

Vegans avoid all consumption and interaction with animal products. Their diets exclude things like meat, dairy and gelatin, and their lifestyle excludes items such as leather and fur.  

At past Thanksgiving meals, the first-year graduate student in wellness management and applied gerontology has eaten all of the sides, skipping just the turkey.

This year, O’Neal said he plans to look into other options such as a butternut squash with whole-wheat wild rice, onion stuffing and maple and tarragon sweet potatoes. 

However, he still has some plans to keep traditional favorites.

“There are ways of making all of your favorite things in a vegan style as well,” O’Neal said, citing plans to “veganize a pumpkin pie.”

Tele Barnett said she is celebrating her third vegan Thanksgiving.

“My entire life has basically consisted of eating side dishes,” said the sophomore hospitality and food management major. “This is the first year I’ve completely taken over.”

Barnett said she will adorn her table with a vegan green bean casserole, garlic mashed potatoes with gravy, bean and barley soup and finish it off with cheesecake. She said she is excited to try a new vegan tamale pie recipe.

“It’s to the point where I’m doing [all the cooking] because there’s just nothing for me to eat,” Barnett said. “It’s my duty to make things that I can eat.”

She said everyone loves her vegan recipes, and there is one thing she is sure to be doing on Thanksgiving. 

“I’ll be stuffing my face still,” she said.


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