It is officially the festive season around the globe and aren’t we excited. In about a month, we’d be celebrating Christmas and New Year, but before that, we have Thanksgiving. The same holiday where everybody is either cooking Turkey or sticking their head in one in popular TV shows and movies. But why this fixation with Turkey? Especially when the spread is so wide and versatile.  Before we get to that, let’s learn a little bit about the holiday itself.  

Thanksgiving of Days Of Thanksgiving: Origins Of The Holiday 

In USA, Thanksgiving would be celebrated on 25th November this year. The holiday is celebrated on different dates in different countries like Canada, Liberia and St. Lucia. It is primarily a day of offering thanks and being grateful for the harvest of autumn. Thanksgiving in the U.S. also has its roots in the English tradition of thanksgiving services after the Protestant Reformation. During King Henry’s reign in 16th century, the Catholic calendar had a bit too many church holidays, due to which people often had to miss work and sometimes even pay an exorbitant fee for celebrations and other church-related services. The protestant church not only brought down the number of holidays, in due course of time, the Puritans also demanded holidays to get limited to days of fasting and days of thanksgiving. Unusual calamities and disasters like drought called for days of fasting, and special occasions where you wanted to thank God for all that you harvested, qualified as 'Days of Thanksgiving'.  

When Did Turkey Come Into The Picture? 

Over the years, of course, the days got more and more defined, many new rituals were added, like the inclusion of Turkey in the dinner table. That’s right, in the “first thanksgiving meal” shared between pilgrims and Plymouth (now Massachusettes) has evidence of “wild foul”, but no explicit mention of Turkey can be found. It could have been Turkey, which was very common to the area, but they could have also been ducks or geese. Moreover, the pilgrims did not even consider this a special meal so to say, because they had been celebrating autumn harvest for many years.  

We have to travel to New England, the American colies for the British, to find traces of Turkey as the piece de resistance. ‘Days of Thanksgiving’ were common among the Christians here, and they would have a few of these in their homes. It was somewhere around in 19th century, where Turkey took center stage in these meals, mostly because of its wide availability. Turkeys were raised in family farms, they were mostly raised for meat as their eggs were not as useful as those of hens. Some also credit Charles Dicken’s Christmas Carol for kickstarting a trend of sorts, making Turkey synonymous to Holiday spreads. With Thanksgiving becoming a national holiday, people became more and more excited for the occasion. It became a reason for families to come together, make merry, and Turkey was just a practical option to feed them all. It was affordable, versatile, yummy, what more do you want for a superhit meal.