Thanksgiving Ham

Text: “My family always buys pre-sliced ham from our local grocery shop on Thanksgiving, and it’s really good with the special glaze that it comes with. It’s like this honey pineapple type glaze that’s sweet and then you combine the sweet with the savory from the ham, and it’s just an amazing concoction.”


Informant is a freshman at the University of Southern California studying human biology, originally from St. Louis, Missouri from Nigerian descent. We speak alongside a few of her other friends, and she carries a somewhat sarcastic, comedic tone.

“It’s a classic Thanksgiving staple in our family. And I honestly prefer eating the ham over turkey any day anytime. We began doing it when we moved into my new house which is my current house back at home. So probably 2013, 2014 ish. I think we do it because it’s way easier to prepare than a Turkey, and it tastes better. I’ve heard of other people doing it, but not for Thanksgiving more for Christmas. This tradition makes me feel so excited to wake up on Thanksgiving morning. I can smell the sweet, savory aroma of the ham tickle my nostrils. Wow.”

Analysis: Having this specific dish on a certain holiday is an example of a ritual. It is a ritual which commemorates something, namely the early days of colonized America. It is performed within a certain group of people at a specific time of year. It is also an example of ritual inversion in how modern folk tradition places ham on the menu for Christmas and turkey on the menu for Thanksgiving, but the informant’s family reverses these traditions. They are able to invert the normal social rules because they have claimed their own celebration as their own time for traditions and rituals.