Turkeys, gratitude and a line that wraps around the entirety of Peirce Dining Hall as early as 3:30 p.m.: Peircegiving is upon us. A beloved Kenyon tradition, Peircegiving promises good food and wholesome moments with friends to propel the College into the last days before Thanksgiving break. Though there have been changes to the event’s structure in recent years, the community spirit has remained constant.
It is unclear exactly how Peircegiving came into existence, but a Collegian article from 2013 claims that it had been celebrated “for at least 26 years,” making it a minimum of 36 years old. Though the event has largely remained the same over the years, there have been some changes to the timing; in the past, Peircegiving was held on the third Thursday in November (usually the last Thursday before the break). This year, however, it has been moved up to the second Thursday in November, presumably to accommodate student schedules leading up to the vacation.
According to the same 2013 article, that year the event boasted “eight cases of spaghetti squash and 400 pounds of mashed potatoes.” The plethora of hungry students occasionally placed a strain on food availability; a 2015 Collegian article reported that AVI ran out of turkey.
Speaking of turkeys, AVI sources the all-important birds from local farms. For a 2017 article, Collegian writers paid a visit to Sweet Grass Dairy, a dairy farm approximately 20 minutes from campus in Fredericktown, to investigate the lives of the unfortunate poultry who would grace the tables of Old Side in a few short weeks. The owners of Sweet Grass Dairy emphasized their organic farming practices and commitment to free-range turkey rearing, assuring students that the centerpiece of their Peircegiving dinner had lived a fulfilling life.
Of course, turkey isn’t the only important Peircegiving staple. In 2020, when the event was scaled back due to the pandemic, the Alumni Magazine published “A Taste of Peircegiving,” featuring pastry chef Bethany Fonner’s recipe for Maple Apple Upside Down Cake. The same article referred to Peircegiving as “a bacchanal of too much turkey, competitively claimed tables and general merriment,” illustrating that the frenetic energy of the event is just as integral to the festivities as the food.
And of course, there’s the dreaded line. Students begin claiming New Side tables and staking out Old Side hours before the meal is set to begin. The line to get food has been known to extend around New Side (and in some years, even outside the building itself). Waiting is, of course, the hardest part, but for some students, the Peircegiving line has offered a surprising opportunity for reflection. As Elizabeth Redmond ’25 can attest, the line can be the perfect place to ponder what you want out of your Kenyon experience: “During my first year, our spring schedules were released while we were in that two-hour line,” she wrote in a message to the Collegian. “While I was in line, our French history professor [Assistant Professor of History Justin Rivest] sent out an all-stu with a picture of Napoleon and a promise he would bring some espresso for us to try if we signed up for his 8 a.m. Modern France course.” During the seemingly endless Peircegiving purgatory, Redmond was able to make a decision that would inform the rest of her life: “In the time it took to wait for Peircegiving, I signed up for his class…[it] introduced me to early modern history, which I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in following Kenyon.”
As with any beloved holiday tradition, what makes Peircegiving exciting for the campus community is the opportunity to share it with their loved ones. A 2022 Collegian feature on what Peircegiving means to students found that many people simply looked forward to sitting down for a festive meal with their friends. So whether you’re a die-hard Thanksgiving lover or a tentative participant (or even a vegetarian!), Peircegiving will have something for everyone.