President Biden pardons turkeys in Thanksgiving tradition

Thanksgiving turkey pardon - Getty

Following an old tradition at the White House, President Joe Biden symbolically pardoned two turkeys on Monday

In the US, Thanksgiving is a holiday almost as important as Christmas. It was proclaimed a national holiday in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln and began to be widely celebrated by 1900. It is reported that Lincoln was the first to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey and grew into a tradition followed by many of his successors, becoming a norm in the White House in 1989 with president George H.W. Bush.

“It’s a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition here at the White House,” America’s first octogenarian president said at Monday’s ceremony. “There’s a lot to say about it, but it’s chilly outside, so I’m going to keep this short. Nobody likes it when their turkey gets cold!”

The president went on and joked about the “votes” needed for the decision not being tampered with, an allusion to Republican accusations during the midterm elections. “The votes are in. They’ve been counted and verified. There’s been no ballot stuffing, there’s been no fowl play.”

“The only red wave this season will be if our German shepherd Commander knocks over the cranberry sauce at our table.”

Joe Biden

He pardoned not one but two turkeys, named Chocolate and Chip, releasing them back in the care of North Carolina State University, “home to some of the world’s top poultry and animal agriculture experts and facilities,” as John Dole, interim dean at NC State said. “We deliver excellence in teaching, research and extension to meet the industry’s needs and grow our state. The birds couldn’t be in better hands.”

In his speech, Biden also urged Americans to update their Covid-19 boosters and get flu vaccines. “Two years ago, we couldn’t even have Thanksgiving with large family gatherings. Now we can. That’s progress and let’s keep it going.” As for his plans on Thanksgiving, the first family will travel to Nantucket, Massachusetts on Tuesday to spend the holiday with family.