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Why do we Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving

Roast turkey has been eaten for Thanksgiving dinner since the early 1800’s. But why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving? This post will try and answer that question!

Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

There are 3 different explanations about why we eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Any of these 3 stories may or may not be true:

  1. The first possible reason why turkey is eaten at Thanksgiving is that it was served at the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving. Evidence for this comes from the writing of William Bradford who mentioned that turkey was eaten at the first Thanksgiving. However, this was written 22 years after the celebration and the word ‘turkey’ was used by pilgrims to describe many different birds.
  2. The second explanation is that we eat turkey because of Benjamin Franklin’s statement that turkeys were “respectable birds”. Franklin thought that turkeys should be the national symbol of America. It is true that, at the time, turkeys were cooked for many special occasions. However, we cannot be sure that this statement started the tradition of eating turkey on Thanksgiving.
  3. The last explanation is very unusual. According to legend, Queen Elizabeth the first was eating a roast goose during a festival. She then found out that a Spanish ship, which was going to attack England, mysteriously sunk on the way. She then ordered that another roast goose be prepared to celebrate England’s good fortune. Roast goose then became a popular meal at harvest time. The story is that when pilgrims first arrived in America from England they found few geese but many turkeys. Therefore, they started roasting turkey instead as they were found in greater numbers.

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