Why do people eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

Why do people eat turkey on Thanksgiving?


(cellphone ringing) – Hi, it’s Doug. Turkeys, like this one I have here, are such strange looking birds. Don’t you think? Someone named Charlotte has
a question about turkeys. Let’s give her a call now. (cellphone ringing) – Hi Doug. – Hi Charlotte. – I have a question for you. Why do people eat turkey on Thanksgiving? – Oh, that’s a great question. 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 too, 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 makes a sound like this? (turkeys gobbling) So weird. But maybe most impressive
of all is how they look. The males look different from the females with a long bright red
snood, that fleshy thing that hangs over their beak. And with those huge tail feathers that they can fan out in a display. All so that each male can put
on a dance for the females. They really do this, a turkey dance. So what gives? Why are turkeys such a huge part of one of our major holidays? Well, whenever you wanna 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 on 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 webpages 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? Before I say anything more,
now would be a good time to pause the video and discuss. Okay, you ready? 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, a
time to feel thankful too. 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, were 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
turkeys beautiful feathers for decorations and ceremonies. The kind of turkey found in Mexico, called the ocellated 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 ate 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 having become a symbol of the entire day. People hang up turkey decorations, sometimes dress their
pets in 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, and no matter what you eat. That’s all for this weeks question. Thanks Charlotte for asking it. Now for the next episode, I reached into my question jar and picked out three
questions sent in to me that I’m thinking about answering next. When this video’s done playing you’ll get to vote on one. You can choose from, why do we have 12 months in a year, how do phones ring, or why are some babies born as twins. So submit your vote
when the video is over. I wanna hear from all of you watching. There are mysteries all
around us, stay curious. See you next week.

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