Families Begin to Enjoy Football Broadcasts on Thanksgiving and A Tradition is Begun

In the 1920s, football finally moved into the home, rather than being merely a form of outdoor amusement which threatened to overwhelm the domestic celebration. The family might dine and then listen to a football game on the radio as a form of after-dinner entertainment. By 1956, football games were televised. Popular entertainment has enhanced home celebration in the twentieth century, whether it was the Christmas program on radio or television or the broadcast of a football game. There is always the question of whether listening to the football game in the living room represented a distinct stage of reinvention of the holiday, or simply a new custom attached to the nineteenth-century notion of feast and homecoming. Men, listening avidly to the game at home, probably thought it was a significant reinvention. They quickly came to regard listening to the game as traditional, part of what made the ritual authentic and meaningful.

Families scheduled their dinner so that they would be finished eating by the time the football game began.

Elizabeth Pleck, “The Making of the Domestic Occasion: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States”, Journal of Social History 32, No. 4 (Summer 1999), 782.

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