Before eating way too much, bickering with relatives or maybe watching the Detroit Lions game, a lot of us sit down and watch a Thanksgiving Day parade.

That’s been a tradition for decades, though when Thanksgiving was a relatively new holiday in this country, we had a different kind of parade, and it was something close to Halloween trick or treating.

This was called the Ragamuffin Parade, and it was a tradition best known in New York City.

It dates back to around 1870, not too long after President Abraham Lincoln officially declared a Thanksgiving holiday in the US.

Kids would dress up as ragamuffins, which were down on their luck figures a little like Charlie Chaplin’s famous Tramp character.

The idea was that, on this day of plenty, youngsters would go door to door in these ragamuffin costumes, or later, in costumes of all kinds.

They would knock on someone’s door and ask, “anything for Thanksgiving?”

Grown-ups might give them a little candy, or an apple or maybe even a coin.

And while the kids loved it, the grown-ups, not so much.

There were organized campaigns to stamp out Ragamuffin Parades; in fact, some Thanksgiving Parades sprang up to try to give kids something else to do on Thanksgiving than dress up and beg for treats.

Plus, during the Great Depression and World War II, there wasn’t really any candy to give ragamuffins, so there were fewer and fewer of them each year.

After the war, when candy was widely available again, trick-or-treating at Halloween became the norm for kids who wanted to dress up and collect sweets.

Some Ragamuffin Parades have stuck around to this day, though a lot of them now take place at the end of October.

So there’s probably no need to keep a bowl of apples or nickels by the door today.

Back in 2010, the website Passive-Aggressive notes posted a class assignment by 7 year old Lola about this holiday from a turkey’s point of view.

“Turkeys think of Thanksgiving as a war,” she wrote. “So keep this in mind and remember what turkeys think of Thanksgiving.”

And that about says it all.

Thanksgiving Ragamuffin Parade (New York Public Library)

Poultry Slam (Passive-Aggressive Notes)

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Photo by Bain News Service via Library of Congress/Flickr/Creative Commons