The origins of Friendsgiving

In recent years, the traditional family Thanksgiving celebration has either been replaced or supplemented by Friendsgiving for some. (Element5 Digital via Unsplash)

Turkey, creamy mashed potatoes and family are staples for a traditional Thanksgiving. But students who are unable to go home for Thanksgiving must make do with what they have.

These students have several options to get their “turkey fix” on turkey day, not the least of which is “Friendsgiving,” where friends gather to eat on or near Thanksgiving day.

Since its beginnings in the late 2000s, Friendsgiving has grown from an obscure sub-holiday to a viable supplement, even a replacement, to the traditional family-centered holiday — but where did it all start?

The word “Friendsgiving” first made an appearance in 2007 when it was thrown around loosely in both Twitter posts and Usenet discussion boards. There were a few more references to Friendsgiving both on the internet and in print journalism in 2008, including a Nov. 20 Pensacola News article, referencing the sub-holiday.

“Just because you can’t go home for the holidays doesn’t mean you have to be alone and leftover-less. Friends, coworkers, neighbors and ‘holiday orphans’ can celebrate a fantastic ‘Friendsgiving’ instead,” the article states.

By 2014, Friendsgiving became had become more prominent, and today it is a choice for those who either can’t celebrate with family or want to celebrate with friends. People have gone so far as to create Friendsgiving rules and how-tos.

BYU student Hannah Whitaker said her first Friendsgiving was in 11th grade and that it’s a tradition she’s continued in college. This year, she said she has participated in two Friendsgivings.

“I think they’re super fun and a great way to bring people together, especially big friend groups,” she said. “It’s a great tradition for college students.”

Cole Jensen, a BYU graduate now living in New Haven, Conn., said Friendsgiving is especially prominent among graduate students who want to get to know each other better.

He first heard about Friendsgiving when he came home from his mission in 2016. Like Whitaker, he’s also participated in two Friendsgivings this year, one with other students and one with people from his apartment complex.

“It’s a great way to meet new people,” he said. “Plus free food is never a bad thing.”

While some people supplement their Thanksgiving with Friendsgiving, others use it as an alternative to the family Thanksgiving, whether it be they can’t go home that year or to escape negativity some family gatherings can bring.

Provo resident Joseph Moulton said he took part in Friendsgiving last year.

“It was mostly just a group of college-age queer people who’s family situation made Thanksgiving a negative thing for them,” he said. “My family is great, but it was really fun to help re-write a negative tradition for my friends.”

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