That time of year when families gather together, eat pumpkin pie, drink merrily and sit around the proverbial water cooler and talk turkey to each other while in a self-induced stupor laden with tryptophan from the Turkey legs and cranberry sauce.
But just why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? And for that matter, why do we even eat Turkey? Well, it all started far, far back in the day in 1621 with a celebratory feast of past blessings and the current harvest.
Plymouth’s Thanksgiving began with a few colonists going out “fowling,” possibly for turkeys, but more probably for the easier prey of geese and ducks. When ninety or so Wampanoag’s appeared at the settlement gates, the pilgrims reluctantly let them in to participate in the feast, in which the Wampanoag’s brought venison, eel, stew, vegetables and beer.
It was quite a disorderly affair, but the event help seal the treaty between the two groups until King Phillip's war of 1775.
The New England colonists treated Thanksgiving as a sacred and religious affair and resented the government trying to participate in the annual harvest celebration.
It wasn’t until October 3rd 1863, during the Civil War that then President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday in November at the behest of Sarah Josepha Hale, a local writer and editor, who insisted that making Thanksgiving a national holiday would help to promote harmony. And so the story goes.
But that still doesn’t answer why we eat Turkey on Thanksgiving Day? At the time of these celebrations, Turkey eggs were not in high demand, as were chicken eggs. The turkeys were quite large and, to put simply, expendable!
Benjamin Franklin himself had been known to boast how much one turkey could feed a large family and how decorative the bird looked on the dinner table after being prepared and cooked.
And here we are today, almost 150 years after Lincoln’s proclamation, celebrating Thanksgiving and being thankful and grateful for the prior bounty and blessings received throughout the year.
Who’s ready eat?