How Thanksgiving Has Evolved Over the Past Century

Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?

Getty Images

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words—and your Thanksgiving festivities are no exception. Ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Thanksgiving has been deemed a celebratory day filled with gratitude. Events including the White House’s pardoning of the turkey to the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade remind us why this holiday is so special, and—most important—the ways in which it unites us. That said, no two Thanksgiving holidays look alike. Not only do they vary by family, but they also evolve over time.

Whether you give thanks among loved ones at the dinner table or take the day to celebrate our country as a whole, there’s no better way to memorialize Thanksgiving than by looking back at our celebrations throughout the years. From vintage Thanksgiving images from the 20th century to modern celebrations in 2019, take a peek at iconic Turkey Days from 1910 to the present day.

vintage thanksgiving photos
ELLE DecorGetty Images
1 of 87
93rd annual macy's thanksgiving day parade
Kevin MazurGetty Images
2 of 87

Boy band NCT 127 performed—and snapped a selfie—at the 93rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

buffalo bills v dallas cowboys
Wesley HittGetty Images
3 of 87

The Buffalo Bills beat the Dallas Cowboys 26 to 15 at a 2019 Thanksgiving football game.

late night with seth meyers   season 6
NBCGetty Images
4 of 87

TV personality, Queer Eye star, and chef Antoni Porowski cooks with Late Night host Seth Meyers.

vintage thanksgiving photos
James DevaneyGetty Images
5 of 87

Diana Ross and daughter Tracee Ellis Ross attend the 92nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 22, 2018, in New York City.

vintage thanksgiving photos
6 of 87

U.S. President Donald Trump at the official U.S. turkey pardoning in the Rose Garden of the White House on November 20, 2018.

vintage thanksgiving photos
Getty Images
7 of 87

Gwen Stefani performs for the 2017 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York on November 23, 2017.

Thanksgiving pictures past century
8 of 87

U.S. President Barack Obama pardons the national Thanksgiving turkey—named Tater—in the Rose Garden of the White House with his nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson.

thanksgiving pictures
Getty Images
9 of 87

Fans and alumni of the University of Michigan watch their team at halftime during the traditional Big Ten game over the Thanksgiving holiday in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

chicago bears v detroit lions
Leon HalipGetty Images
10 of 87

Fans sport turkey hats as they gear up for the Chicago Bears versus Detroit Lions football game.

washington, dc   november 27
the first family continues their
The Washington PostGetty Images
11 of 87

The First Family spread the holiday spirit by participating in a service project at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., on November 27, 2013.

Meal, Dinner, Event, Supper, Lunch, Brunch, Table, Banquet, Food, Rehearsal dinner,
Getty Images
12 of 87

Vice President Joe Biden hosts wounded warriors for an early Thanksgiving dinner at his residence.

vintage thanksgiving photos
NBC NewsWireGetty Images
13 of 87

Martha Stewart, Natalie Morales, and Al Roker are pictured cooking during NBC’s Today Thanksgiving special.

vintage thanksgiving photos
David LivingstonGetty Images
14 of 87

Jennifer Love Hewitt and Kim Kardashian attend the Los Angeles Mission’s 75th-anniversary celebration, serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal on November 23, 2011.

vintage thanksgiving photos
Gary GershoffGetty Images
15 of 87

Ramses Barden, Kevin Boothe, Jim Cordle, and Chris Canty—all players for the New York Giants at the time—pose for a photo as they prepare to serve a Thanksgiving dinner at the Food Bank for New York City’s Community Kitchen of West Harlem on November 22, 2011.

the tonight show with jay leno
NBCGetty Images
16 of 87

Jay Leno with baker Marjorie Johnson during a cooking segment on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

vintage thanksgiving photos
ELLE DecorGetty Images
17 of 87
us army soldiers celebrate thanksgiving in afghanistan
Scott OlsonGetty Images
18 of 87

A U.S. soldier enjoys his Thanksgiving feast while standing watch in a guard tower on November 26, 2009, in Mata Khan, Afghanistan.

thanksgiving pictures
Getty Images
19 of 87

Actress and chef Katie Lee volunteers to serve Thanksgiving dinner at the New York City Rescue Mission in 2008.

joe biden and family spend thanksgiving in iowa
Eric ThayerGetty Images
20 of 87

Future vice president—and Democratic presidential candidate—Joe Biden volunteers at a benefit event at the Machine Shed Restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa.

david blaine joins 100 kids chosen by the salvation army on a target shopping spree
M. Von HoldenGetty Images
21 of 87

David Blaine, the magician who successfully escaped from a gyroscope hanging 40 feet above Times Square on Thanksgiving, joined Major George A. Hood of the Salvation Army to host 100 deserving kids on a holiday shopping spree at Target.

Landmark, Metropolitan area, Urban area, Architecture, City, Skyscraper, Sky, Human settlement, Metropolis, Building,
Getty Images
22 of 87

An Uncle Sam balloon makes its way down Broadway during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

78th annual macy's thanksgiving day parade
David PomponioGetty Images
23 of 87

Disney Channel star Raven-Symoné waves to the crowd at the 78th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Former US first lady Senator Hillary Rodham clinton
24 of 87

American politician and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton shares a Thanksgiving meal with U.S. troops at Camp Wolverine in Kuwait City, where she visited after stopovers in Kabul and Baghdad.

Liza Minnelli Performs At New York Homeless Shelter
Spencer PlattGetty Images
25 of 87

American actress and singer Liza Minnelli performs during the New York City Rescue Mission Thanksgiving dinner, where she served food and signed autographs.

macy's thanksgiving day parade
NBCGetty Images
26 of 87

A somber tribute: New York police officers carry an American flag during the 2001 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which took place just two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

vintage thanksgiving photos
Chris HondrosGetty Images
27 of 87

Manfred Bass, head float designer for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, measures out a Mickey Mouse scale model in a Hoboken, New Jersey, warehouse on November 14, 2000.

vintage thanksgiving photos
ELLE DecorGetty Images
28 of 87
Chicago Bears Detroit Lions annual Thanksgiving Day game 25 November 1999 in Pontiac, MI.
29 of 87

Fans prepare for the start of the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions annual Thanksgiving Day game in Pontiac, Michigan.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Season 7
NBCGetty Images
30 of 87

American fitness instructor, actor, and video producer Richard Simmons poses with Jay Leno during The Tonight Show with Jay Leno ahead of Thanksgiving.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at
More From Fun at Home