Why Do People Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving?

Many families in the United States prepare turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving with family or friends, you might eat foods like turkey, potatoes, and stuffing. Have you ever wondered why people serve turkey for this meal?

Some people think that turkey was served at the first Thanksgiving. Historians believe that the Pilgrim settlers at Plymouth colony shared a meal with the Wampanoag group in 1621. The Wampanoag brought deer to the meal. The pilgrims brought what was recorded as “fowl.” Fowl is a word for a type of bird. Turkey is one type of fowl. But most historians think the settlers brought ducks or geese, not turkey.

A hundred years later, people in the United States had “days of giving thanks” in their communities. Turkey was very popular at these celebrations. Millions of wild turkeys lived in the country.  On farms, people had cows that gave milk and chickens that laid eggs. But turkeys were raised only for food. So it was fine to serve them for dinner. Turkeys were big, too. A single turkey could feed a whole family.

Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863. Writers created stories about the first Thanksgiving. They wrote that turkey was part of the meal. Pretty soon, turkeys and Thanksgiving were tied together!

What Do You Think? Were you surprised at the story of why people eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

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