It's not many holidays people celebrate where there's a bird connected with it. I mean when you think of your birthday you think cake right. It's not like people go oh hey happy birthday, here's a Birthday chicken.
But on Thanksgiving for so many Americans it's all about the turkey and turkeys are such a strange bird to aren't they?
These birds are huge. It's a wonder they can even fly if you'd been a chicken farmer and you'd never seen a turkey before. You'd think you'd hit the jackpot. That's a lot more meat.
Then there's how they sound what other bird. But maybe most impressive of all is how they look. The males look different from the females with a long bright red snoot that fleshy thing that hangs over their beak.
And with those huge tail feathers that they can fan out in a display also that each male can put on a dance for the females.
Why are turkeys a huge part of our major holidays?
Well, whenever you want to find out why there's some tradition that people have something they do regularly every year. The way I try to find out is to look for experts in the past.
I look for a historian someone who keeps track of the stories and events that happened before you and I were alive lots of historians have written books and Web pages about how different holidays got started including the holiday of Thanksgiving.
I didn't know the answer to this question until I started looking and I was surprised to find out that Thanksgiving is a holiday that goes way way back in history in ancient times.
Lots of people all around the world would have a big feast or meal at some point in the fall season.
It would be a big celebration. Now, why do you think that is why a big celebration in the fall and why especially a feast or a big meal.
Well, the reason for this big feast every fall was because that is the time of harvest the time when food would have finished growing for the year and be ready to collect.
It was a time of celebration a time to finally feel relaxed after so much hard work. And for many people time to feel thankful to friends and family for all their hard work together thankful for good weather.
Thankful for plenty of food saved up for the winter in the country of England in particular. It became popular to combine the fall harvest with the idea of giving thanks and calling that day Thanksgiving. And so it became a holiday in England.
The word Thanksgiving is English but in England. While these Thanksgiving feasts would have had bread maybe some chicken and gravy maybe some apples. What they didn't have was Turkey. That's because by this point the people living in England had no idea that turkeys even existed turkeys you see where a bird found only in the continent of North America.
They're special to North America. While the Europeans and other people in the world had no idea turkeys existed the indigenous or First Nations peoples of North America knew all about them and turkeys were an incredibly valuable part of their lives.
Indigenous people of Mexico such as the Mayans and the Aztecs were some of the very first turkey farmers they'd raise and breed turkeys and just like chickens they'd use them for their eggs. Yeah. You can eat turkey eggs they'd eat the meat of the turkey too and they'd use the turkey's beautiful feathers for decorations and ceremonies.
The kind of Turkey found in Mexico called the oscillator Turkey has especially shiny and colorful feathers.
When the English started coming to North America they brought their celebration of Thanksgiving with them. Their feast had always included foods. They were used to but when they arrived in North America now they were in the land of the indigenous people of North America.
These people grew and 8 foods the English people had never seen corn cranberries pumpkins squash and turkeys.
The English people living in North America soon started to include these indigenous North American foods in their Thanksgiving meal. Now here's the funny thing. Even though Thanksgiving with that name started out as a holiday celebrated by the English it isn't really celebrated much in England anymore but in the United States and in Canada where many English people moved it stayed a holiday.
In fact, it's become a major holiday with turkeys has become a symbol of the entire day. People hang up turkey decorations sometimes dress their pets and Turkey costumes and even though it was the English who may have named it Thanksgiving it's not a holiday that's about celebrating a certain people or a certain country.
Anyone can celebrate Thanksgiving for many people living in North America today. This is a holiday about getting together with close friends or family and taking time out of our busy lives to be thankful for all that we have no matter where you come from.