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Holidays

Wacky, windy and weird: 1964 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Linus the Lion-Hearted at the 1964 Macy’s Parade The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade of 1963 had been a downer of a parade. President John F. Kennedy had just been assassinated a few days before but, deciding that cancelling the event would be “a disappointment to millions of children,” the parade went on as planned.  Leading […]

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Holidays

History in the Making 11/24: Big Thanksgiving Rodents Edition

Mickey Mouse at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1980 (courtesy the Museum of the City of New York)  The Christmas Trash Strike of 1981 My new story for A24 Films and A Most Violent Year is up — a look at the strike by the New York sanitation department which kept New Yorkers in feet of […]

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Holidays

Months after the Draft Riots, New York celebrates the first national Thanksgiving, in the shadow of war and lunar eclipse

Above: A Thomas Nast illustration from Harper’s Weekly, November 1863, clearly putting the event in the context of war and hardship.  In practice, Thanksgiving celebrates the supposed feast between the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors in Massachusetts. But meals of ‘thanksgiving’ have been part of the Western world customs for hundreds of years, and […]

Dressed for success: The tradition of Thanksgiving masking, children in drag, begging for money!

Turkey anyone? Thanksgiving maskers, in New York, taken sometime between 1910-15. Whatever you do, don’t look the ‘lady’ directly in the eye! My new column for the Huffington Post is live, and the topic is a strange, forgotten holiday custom called Thanksgiving masking, popular among New York kids from the 1890s-1930s. Children dressed as exaggerated […]

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Holidays

Happy Thanksgiving Masking: The pleasures of mischief, featureless masks and cross-dressing children!

No, these children have not gotten their calendars confused. One early American Thanksgiving tradition amongst rascals and rowdies involved goofy costumes and disguised faces. Sometimes called ‘Thanksgiving masking’, the strange practice stemmed from a satirical perversion of poverty and an ancient tradition of ‘mumming’, where men in costumes floated from door to door, asking for […]