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PHOTOS: A short history of the ‘turkey pardon,’ the White House’s weirdest Thanksgiving tradition

Every year, before the President of the United States can sit down and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with his family, he must go through the odd tradition of “pardoning” the turkey that won’t be eaten.

While the reason behind the tradition is still a bit of a mystery, the White House traces it all the way back to President Lincoln in 1863.

As the story goes, Lincoln’s son, Tad, may or may not have persuaded his father not to eat the turkey they purchased for Christmas dinner. They instead adopted it as a pet, naming the turkey Jack.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy received his Thanksgiving turkey from the Poultry and Egg National Board. He officially pardoned the bird by saying, “Let’s keep him going,” and it was the Washington Post who used the term “pardon” to cover the story. – READ MORE

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