Thanksgiving festivities are always accompanied by a hearty meal. The most popular conventional dishes include baked potatoes, pumpkin pies, cranberry sauce, and baked turkey. This menu has been passed down over generations and has become a Thanksgiving tradition. Even so, how did the turkey become a part of Thanksgiving, and why is it so important? Read on to find out!
The Theory Surrounding Turkey and Thanksgiving
Honestly, no one can say for sure if the turkey was eaten on the “first” Thanksgiving day celebration. In his journal, Plymouth colonist Edward Winslow makes no direct mention of “turkey,” but he did mention “wildfowl,” which could have meant a duck or a goose. He also mentioned “waterfowl,” which could also imply a duck or geese. This leaves the ‘”wildfowl” theory open to guesses. Nonetheless, since wild turkeys were surplus in Plymouth back then, turkey could have been the “wildfowl” mentioned in the journal.
Sarah Josepha Hale
Sarah, in her magazine, Godey’s Lady’s book, portrayed turkey as an important part of every special meal. She also published several recipes with turkey as the centerpiece. Not long after, she started the Thanksgiving awareness campaign. She constantly wrote to Abraham Lincoln, the then U.S. President, and others before him to declare one day as Thanksgiving Day. When her plea was heeded, turkey became widely accepted as a part of the celebration, thanks to her numerous publications.
Charles Dicken’s ” A Christmas Carol”
Charles Dicken’s 1843 novel,’ A Christmas Carol,’ presented turkey as a holiday special. Since Christmas follows soon after Thanksgiving and both are special holidays, perhaps, that was why turkey was adopted as part of the November day celebration.
The Practicality Factor
Turkeys are both affordable and readily available. Plus, they are bred for meat, unlike cows and chickens that have other commercial value (milk and eggs). In addition, they are large-sized birds, enough for feeding a large gathering of family and friends.
No Cooking Stress
There is no fuss over cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving. All there is to do is bake it for a few hours, with or without stuffing, and enjoy!
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