Why Do We Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving?


    Thanksgiving is a holiday that dates back to the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock and their journey on the Mayflower. But why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving? The holiday originated in 1789, when President George Washington issued a proclamation for “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln encouraged Americans to recognize the last Thursday of November as “a day of thanksgiving.” Congress passed legislation declaring this day as a national holiday seven years later. The Thanksgiving of 1941 was the first year that Thanksgiving fell on the fourth Thursday of the month, and it remains this way ever since. 

     According to a journal written by colonist Edward Winslow, the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock included the feast of a “wild fowl,” but it could have referred to many different types of animals. But after George Washington issued the proclamation, it is believed that Alexander Hamilton said “No person should abstain from having turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” He stated this because turkey was abundant in the northeast during the first years of Thanksgiving holidays. It is estimated that there were at least ten million turkeys in America at the time. Turkeys were also an inexpensive dish that were big enough to feed an average family. 

     There is no definite answer to why Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, but these theories shed light to the age-old question.