8 University traditions that will make you want to stay on campus for Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is a holiday most known for time spent around the table with close friends and family, counting our blessing and sharing a delicious meal.  Thanksgiving is also full of time-honored traditions like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, football, scouring the Black Friday ads, and hoping the wishbone breaks in your favor. 

Unfortunately, not all college students can make it home for the holiday. Luckily, many college campuses open their dining halls for a special Thanksgiving meal with all the fixings.

Some colleges go the extra mile to make Thanksgiving extra special with traditions of their own. 

University of Maryland 

The University of Maryland really embodies the holiday spirit by giving back to their community. Each year they host Project Feast – an event where a hot meal is provided for the homeless and disadvantaged residents of Baltimore. In addition to the hot meal, warm clothing and other donated items are given to all in attendance.

Lebanon Valley College

Lebanon Valley College boasts a 50-year Thanksgiving tradition that can actually make the holiday weekend last a little longer! Each year, The Flying Dutchman take on their arch-rivals, the Albright College Lions. After the game, in what is fondly referred to as “March to Kreiderheim,” the football team and students march to the President’s house and demand an extra day off. If the team won the game, the President approves the request. If they’ve lost the game, the request is denied.

Hesston College

Hesston College hosts a 3-day Thanksgiving celebration fondly known as a Family Celebration. This celebration includes live bands, sporting events, a talent show, a luminary walk at Dyck Arboretum, and of course — a full Thanksgiving meal. All students, faculty members, family members, and even prospective students are invited. 

Lehigh University

With tradition dating back over 50 years, Lehigh University students and faculty participate in a Turkey Trot. The Trot is a 2.6-mile walk/run hosted the day after Thanksgiving. With an average of 500 participants each year, it’s a sight to be seen! 

Ohio State University 

For over 20-years, Ohio State University has hosted Thanksgiving Day Dinner. This dinner is unlike any other, with over 2,000 guests in attendance. To feed all those people, they have to make 120 turkeys, a half-ton of potatoes, 430 pounds of corn and green beans, and last but certainly not least 200 pies!

Smith College 

In a fairly new tradition that began in 2009, Smith College has a Thanksgiving Day Match-Up. Faculty and students invite international students as well as students who can’t afford to go home for the holidays into their homes to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. This tradition truly embodies the true spirit of what this day represents.

Carnegie Mellon

At Carnegie Mellon’s Thanksgiving Spirituality Dinner, it’s tradition for students and faculty to open up and become more accepting of one another. They discuss their different faiths, beliefs, and traditions before sitting down to enjoy a meal together. This discussion is not limited to Thanksgiving Day, but it something that is practiced for the entire month of November.

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia takes a charitable approach with its Turkey Trot. Each year, they host a 5k race, and all proceed are donated to the University’s Children’s Hospital.


Whether your Thanksgiving traditions are big or small, take some time this season to be thankful for what you have. Don’t have any traditions? Click here for some ideas and give you something else to look forward to each year!