Many Years Before Macy’s Held Their Annual Thanksgiving Parade New York City Children Used To Dress In Costume And Beg For Money
A Forgotten New York Thanksgiving Tradition – Ragamuffin Day
“Please mister, a penny or a nickel for Thanksgiving?”
This request was once heard all around New York City from children dressed in outlandish costumes celebrating Thanksgiving. It came to be known as Ragamuffin Day.
When it started exactly is unclear. It was reported in 1870 costumed men were celebrating Evacuation Day a day early on Thanksgiving, November 24. Evacuation Day commemorated the November 25 anniversary of the British forces leaving New York after the Revolutionary War. Evacuation Day was a major holiday in New York until 1888.
The men in costume who paraded about were called “the Fantasticals.” But why would they be in costume? The answer is somewhat convoluted. The costumes were not really about Thanksgiving or Evacuation Day. This was related more to Guy Fawkes Day celebrated November 5 in England. In the United States, Guy Fawkes day was celebrated with anti-Catholic sentiment, burning an effigy of the Pope. Even though the holidays are weeks apart, the proximity of Guy Fawkes Day to Thanksgiving Day and Evacuation Day is thought to be responsible for the strange combination of these distinct holidays. However the American Fantasticals did not beg for money. Continue reading