Two Truths and a Lie: American Traditions Edition

By: Teresa McGlothlin
Estimated Completion Time
6 min
Two Truths and a Lie: American Traditions Edition
Image: jonathansloane/E+/gettyimages

About This Quiz

Americans have borrowed a lot of traditions from other places, and other places have borrowed a lot from America! From the Thanksgiving wishbone to the White House tree lighting, there are some traditions that no one else can touch. During this quiz, we're going to tell you the truth, and we're also going to tell you a lie! Will you be able to figure out where we've gone off the rails? 

Would you believe us if we told you that the groundhog who predicts the weather is named Punxsutawney Bill? Or are you more likely to believe that Black Friday's name came from the 1800s? You'll need to read our questions carefully to make it through all of the lies we're telling. Any real fan of the United States should do just fine, though. We're good at spinning a tall tale, but are we good enough to fool someone who loves America as much as you do? 

As you go through each set of facts, don't trust your human polygraph skills — stick to what you know! Even the slightest twist of a phrase could take you off your American Dream of success. But you won't let that happen, will you? 

02_turkey pardon
Wikicommons by White House Photographic Office
What's the real gobbler about the presidential turkey pardon that takes place at the White House?
The turkey is eaten after the ceremony.
A turkey is donated by the National Turkey Federation.
George Bush made it an annual event starting 1989.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Every year since the 1870s, one lucky turkey has been spared from the Thanksgiving Day table. Not popularized until George Bush made a media event out of it in 1989, it's now one of America's favorite presidential traditions.

01_restaurant tip
Can you see the lie in these so-called facts about the American tradition of tipping?
Tips are sometimes called gratuities.
A tip of at least 15% is recommended.
Men tip more than women.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

There are other countries that practice tipping, but Americans tip more than anyone in the world. While leaving a gratuity that totals 15% of the bill is customary for servers, you are free to tip any amount. On average, women tip 3% more than men.

05_Valentine's Day
Ariel Skelley/DigitalVision/gettyimages
Which of these Valentine's Day facts should you refuse to love because it's a lie?
Americans get a paid day off.
Chocolates are a popular gift.
Gift cards are often given.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

On Feb. 14, Americans exchange tokens of love like chocolate, cards and intimate apparel. Although it's a widely celebrated day and a commercial powerhouse, it's not an official holiday. Citizens still have to go to work.


03_State of the Union
Wikicommons by Shealah Craighead
Which one of these things about the annual State of the Union Address is fake news?
The president is required to deliver the speech.
It began being broadcast in 1923.
The president writes the speech.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Presidents are required by the Constitution to deliver a State of the Union Address every year. While presidents once composed the speech themselves, a team of writers and advisors now does the job.

Elva Etienne/Moment/gettyimages
What would you traditionally not find American children doing on Halloween?
Wearing costumes
Singing carols
Knocking on strangers' doors
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Halloween is celebrated in many places around the world, but it's a huge deal in the United States. On average, Americans spend around $86 per person every year for the costumes and candy that make it such a fun day.

06_checkout line
Tom Werner/DigitalVision/gettyimages
Shoppers stand in line for hours to get a good Black Friday deal. Can you figure out the little white lie about this American tradition?
It was once called Pig Friday.
It's the busiest day of the year for plumbers.
The name comes from the 1800s.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Back in the 1800s, Black Friday was the term used for market crashes. When the 1950s rolled around, no one wanted to go to work on the day after Thanksgiving. Employers didn't call it Pig Friday, but they did recycle the old term and Black Friday was born.


Hill Street Studios/DigitalVision/gettyimages
In the American south, there's a tradition called homecoming. What's untrue about it?
There's a royal court.
Mascots are often kidnapped.
Parents are not allowed to attend the homecoming football game.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

If you attended high school in the American south, you know all about homecoming. The king and queen are voted into their courts by their fellow students, and the opposing team's mascot is sometimes held hostage. It's all in the name of fun, though. As soon as the football game ends, it's returned.

08_Super Bowl commercials
Robert Deutschman/DigitalVision/gettyimages
Which fact about the very American tradition of watching Super Bowl commercials isn't really a fact?
Ads involving alcohol are not permitted.
A 30-second ad costs around $34 million.
111 million Americans watch them each year.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Super Bowl is football's most-watched game of the year, but it's not the biggest appeal about watching the ultimate championship. Advertisers spend up to $34 million to promote their products, including beer. During the Super Bowl, over 343,000,000 gallons of it are consumed!

09_Mardi Gras
Joel Carillet/E+/gettyimages
Can you figure out what we're making up about the Mardi Gras tradition of Fat Tuesday?
It's the last day of the celebration.
In the United Kingdom, it's called Shrove Tuesday.
Parades take place throughout New Orleans.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Fat Tuesday is the start of Mardi Gras and the day before Ash Wednesday. It's the last day to eat and party before the beginning of Lent, and it's commemorated with the infamous bead-throwing parades that take place in the French Quarter.


Which of these Thanksgiving wishbone facts is nothing but pure deception?
It was originally an Italian tradition.
The person who gets the smallest piece gets to make a wish.
The person who gets the biggest piece of the wishbone gets to make a wish.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The ancient Etruscans believed that they could harness the divine energy from a chicken by preserving the wishbone. For Americans, the tradition involves a tug-of-war with the furcula. The person who gets the bigger portion of the wishbone gets to make a Thanksgiving wish.

Every July 4th, Americans celebrate Independence Day with fireworks. Where's the dud in our statements?
Across the country, there are over 14,000 fireworks displays.
They were authorized in 1777.
They are legal to purchase everywhere in the country.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

One year after signing the Declaration of Independence, Congress passed a measure to include fireworks in the celebration. Although there are countless firework displays throughout the country, it's illegal to purchase them in many U.S. states.

12_pumpkin pie
What's not factual about America's massive love of pumpkin pie?
50 million pumpkin pies are baked every year.
The world's largest pumpkin pie weighed in a 350 pounds.
It was served at the first Thanksgiving.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

You can't experience an American autumn without seeing a few dozen pumpkin-flavored items. People are crazy about it! Although the first pumpkin pie wasn't served at the first Thanksgiving, historians believe that they did enjoy pumpkin soup.


John Lawson/Moment/gettyimages
Do you know which one of these facts about the poppies worn on Memorial Day isn't a fact at all?
They are illegal to grow in the United States.
They stem from a poem.
They are worn in remembrance of soldiers.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In the United States, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May. The signature poppies that are often worn or sold as fundraisers for veterans originate in a poem called "Flanders Fields." Poppies were the first flowers to grow after battles took place, and it's legal to grow anything other than opium poppies in the U.S.

14_Labor Day
Americans get the day off on Labor Day. What are we fudging about it?
It honors the American workforce.
It was first celebrated in 1882.
It's only celebrated in the United States.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Since 1882, Labor Day has always fallen on the first Monday in September. Started by the labor union movement, Oregon became the first state to celebrate it. Other countries, like Canada, also celebrate.

15_Times Square Ball
Wikicommons by Anthony Quintano
What's not right about the tradition of watching the ball drop on New Year's Eve?
The Big Ball weighs around six tons.
It's watched by 1 billion people around the world.
It takes place in Boston.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

New York's Big Ball has undergone a lot of transformations since its debut in 1907. One hundred years later, a billion people tune in to watch the ball drop. Now made from 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles, it's on display throughout the holiday season.


16_National Anthem
When the national anthem is played, what is not the traditional thing to do?
Take off your hat.
Put your hand over your heart.
Look away from the flag.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Written by Francis Scott Key as he watched a battle at a Maryland fort, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is one of the nation's most sacred songs. When you hear it, you should stop any distracting behavior and face the flag.

17_christmas lights house
Rob Lewine/Image Source/gettyimages
Americans like Clark Griswold love to put up outdoor lights at Christmas. What's the fib about them?
There were not used outdoors until the 1920s.
Benjamin Franklin made the first set of lights.
13,000 people are treated for injuries relating to Christmas lights every year.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Americans get to thank Thomas Edison for figuring out to make Christmas lights that blink. It's unknown who figured out how to make a set of them cost less than $300 as they did in the early 1900s, but Americans are thankful for that person, too.

18_Cinco de Mayo
Many Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo. What's not the truth about the day?
It's celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico.
It's the same thing as Mexican Independence Day.
It has roots in the American Civil War.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a quiet day spent with your family. Cross the border into the U.S., and it's a whole different matter! During the Civil War, Mexico was forced to fight the French's plot to overthrow the Confederate Army. May 5th is the celebration of the victory against them.


19_drinking coffee
Tom Werner/DigitalVision/gettyimages
64% of Americans drink coffee. Can you figure out our whopper about their morning tradition?
More women drink coffee than men.
The average price of a cup is $3.28.
Americans drink six cups per day.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Coffee can be made cheaper at home, but Americans drink more coffee on the go than any other country in the world. While 66% of women have up to 3.1 cups a day, only 62% of men have picked up the habit.

20_St. Patrick's Day
When St. Patrick's Day rolls around, what do Americans not do?
Get the day off
Pinch one another
Drink green beer
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Northern Ireland is similar to celebrating it in the United States, but you won't find green beer on that side of the Atlantic. Americans don't get the day off, but they do pinch one another for forgetting to wear green and drink plenty of green-tinted ale.

© Anouk Stricher/Moment/gettyimages
Americans buy fruitcakes, but what's not right about their love for them?
Americans hate them.
Fruitcake used to be a way to try attracting a lover.
One American state has a fruitcake-throwing competition.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Fruitcakes became popular after a Texas bakery started making them in 1913. Although they sell over 50 million of them every year, fruitcakes are among the least eaten of the traditional American holiday foods. In fact, the term "fruitcake" is often used to describe someone who's a bit nutty.


Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision/gettyimages
There's no party like a tailgate party! What is not true about the sports-related tradition?
You must be 21 to attend.
There's lots of food.
Mobile parties are called nomadic tailgating.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

From infants to the elderly, everyone is welcome to come to a tailgate party. As long as you have team spirit to share, you're welcome to include yourself at any pre-game, parking lot event.

23_Groundhog Day
Insight Imaging/Moment/gettyimages
Where are we trying to hoodwink you with our lie about Groundhog Day?
It began as a pagan festival.
It takes place in January.
The groundhog has a name.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Every Feb. 2, Americans turn their focus toward a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil. Loosely modeled after the pagan tradition of Candlemas, Phil's shadow, or lack of shadow, predicts whether or not there will be six more weeks of winter.

24_baby shower
What's completely wrong about American baby showers?
The average gift costs around $30.
China spends more on baby showers.
The gifts are for the mother, not the baby.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In the United States, baby shower gifts total up to the third most spent on any gift-giving holiday. China and India spend more, though. Mothers are showered with gifts for the babies they are carrying.


Image Source/DigitalVision/gettyimages
OMG ... it's time for prom! Do you see the lie we're telling about this high school tradition?
It's common to wear formal attire.
Parents attend and lead the first dance.
Prom goers go out for a meal before the dance.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

There is nothing more exciting than high school prom! High school students dress up in elaborate gowns and tuxedos and dance the night away after going out for a meal. You might find a few chaperones, but parents generally do not attend.

26_christmas milk and cookies
Santa always gets cookies and milk, but where's the mistruth in our statements about American Christmas traditions?
Everyone gets a Christmas cracker.
Inflatable Santas are put on many lawns.
Stockings are hung.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The United States is home to the first artificial Christmas tree and unparalleled Christmas spirit. Although it shares many of its traditions with other countries, Christmas crackers are more of a British thing, but they are starting to gain popularity in the U.S.

27_to go food
Prasit photo/Moment/gettyimages
Can you determine the mistruth about America's love for doggy bags?
It's against health standards to ask for a doggy bag.
France also adopted the idea.
It's a compliment to ask for one.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Any trip to a steakhouse will clue into the enormous portion size found on America's plates. France liked the idea of reducing waste so much that it also adopted the idea. It's considered flattering to the chef for patrons to want to take home their leftovers.


Hill Street Studios/DigitalVision/gettyimages
American elections are traditionally lengthy! What wouldn't add up at the polls?
You can vote at age 16.
Over $2.4 billion was spent during the 2012 election season.
You must register by a deadline.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

During the 2016 elections, the campaign season broke all the records by lasting for a whopping 18 months! As long as you register by your state's deadline and you are over the age of 18 and an American citizen, you are permitted to vote.

29_family dinner
10'000 Hours/DigitalVision/gettyimages
What's not one of the reasons Americans eat dinner so early?
Their days start early.
Children dismiss from school early.
It's based around the time of the evening news.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

American workdays start earlier than many other places in the world, and American school children are usually home by 4 p.m. No one is really sure why Americans eat earlier than most other countries, but the evening news has nothing to do with it.

30_American Dream
Davin G Photography/Moment/gettyimages
We're totally lying about the American Dream. Can you spot our fib?
It's associated with homeownership.
It originates with a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech.
Upward mobility is part of the dream.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic dream involved human compassion and justice, but it's not associated with the American Dream. It would be a nice addition, but the American Dream is focused more on success, the upward mobility of younger generations and wealth.


31_White House Christmas
IIP Photo Archive from Washington, DC, USA
What are we totally making up about the White House tree-lighting ceremony?
No visitors are permitted.
It started when Calvin Coolidge was in office.
2019 marked 98 years of the ceremony.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

With the exception of 1902 when no tree was available for Theodore Roosevelt's ceremony and a couple of other instances, the White House tree has been erected for 98 years. It's lit up every day at approximately 4:30 p.m.

32_Southwestern luminarias
Sumiko Scott/Moment Open/gettyimages
Do you know what's the lie and what's the truth about Southwestern luminarias?
They are taken down on Valentine's Day.
The name means "little lantern."
It's based around a tradition of lighting the way to church.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In the American Southwest, you'll see paper luminarias lining sidewalks around Christmas time. Associated with the New Mexican tradition of lighting the way to Christmas mass or a holiday bonfire, they add a special touch.

33_Giving Tuesday
Image Source/DigitalVision/gettyimages
Americans love to give on a day called Giving Tuesday. Can you spot the big, fat lie about their charity?
In 2018, over $380 million was raised for charity.
It started in 2002.
It's held shortly after Thanksgiving.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Since 2012, Giving Tuesday has been a huge score of all sorts of American charity organizations. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, millions of shoppers shop with a purpose. From fundraisers to percentages donated, it's a great way to feel good about holiday gift shopping.


34_Cyber Monday
smartboy10/DigitalVision Vectors/gettyimages
Do you know what's untrue about the American tradition of online shopping on Cyber Monday?
It's existed since 2005.
Sales hit their peak at midnight.
It's the busiest shopping day in the United States.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Created as a way for online retailers to keep up with big-box stores on Black Friday, Cyber Monday is the busiest shopping day in both the U.S and the U.K. Unlike Black Friday, Cyber Monday's peak sales take place around 11:30 a.m.

35_Boxing Day
JDawnInk/DigitalVision Vectors/gettyimages
What's not true about the tradition of Boxing Day?
It's an American holiday.
It takes place on Dec. 26.
It originated in England.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Boxing Day is not yet an American tradition, but Americans are not one to miss out on a paid day off. Recently, more and more people have been wanting to include the British tradition. Who could argue with not having to work on the day after Christmas?

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