Many across the country celebrate Thanksgiving by getting together and acknowledging the good things in their lives while spending time together. So where does a turkey fit into that, you may be asking?
Thanksgiving turkeys, both Canadian and American, have a long history. The very first Canadian Thanksgiving is thought to have occurred around 1578, when explorer Martin Frobisher celebrated what had been an arduous trip to what is now Nunavut with a feast of Salt Beef, Peas and Biscuits. According to encyclopedia giant Brittanica, the first Thanksgiving in the United States featured a meal of deer meat and perhaps local wildfowl, but both make no specific mention of a turkey. So, when did it become the choice dish for the Thanksgiving feast?
Around the turn of the 19th century, the turkey became the choice for the crowning jewel of a holiday feast for several reasons. Turkeys were plentiful at the time and were a viable choice to use as a meat source for farmers and homesteaders. A hen could provide eggs, or a cow could produce milk, but turkeys were primarily bred for meat. Couple that with their size and ability to provide enough meat for an entire family, and it’s easy to see why the fowl became the prime choice for a big supper like Thanksgiving.
While our American friends south of the border hold their Thanksgiving celebrations in late November, Canadian Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the second Monday of October since 1957, when then-Govenor General Vincent Massey proclaimed “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”
Whether Turkey is on your plate this year or not, have a Happy Thanksgiving from the Courier News!