No matter how folks in the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving, in most homes, there's definitely one repeat guest every holiday — the turkey!
Yet, the history of the Thanksgiving main course remains a mystery. No one seems to know exactly how this bird earned a place of honor at the table.
According to early records kept by American settlers, beef, fowl, and venison were on the when the colonists and the Wampanoag Indians dined together at what's referred to as the first Thanksgiving meal in 1621. In addition to no turkey, there were no mashed potatoes eaten then as they weren’t grown in the area then. Forget about pumpkin pie too since wheat wasn't being grown yet either. Instead, side dishes at the first Thanksgiving might have featured beans, corns, and fruit.
The first national Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by President George Washington in 1789. It didn't become a regular U.S. holiday until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln declared that the last Thursday in November should be celebrated as a national day of thanksgiving, praise and prayer.
In 1939, another President, Franklin Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving one year to a week earlier than usual since the last Thursday in November was also the last day of the month. The change was to make the Christmas shopping season longer and boast retail sales during one of the final years of the Great Depression. After an outpouring of public disapproval so, in 1941 Thanksgiving was declared a legal holiday by Congress.
Did you know that if Benjamin Franklin had his way, the turkey would have become the national U.S. bird and not the bald eagle?
Franklin maintained that since the wild turkey is a native bird of North America it was more fitting as the national symbol. His suggestion was not wildly popular and, in 1782, the bald eagle became the national emblem of the U.S. The bald eagle is America's bird 364 days a year, but the turkey has a day all to itself.
Now, here's a special message from Tom.
According to legend, while Franklin proposed the turkey as the national symbol, Thomas Jefferson favored the bald eagle. When the eagle was selected, Franklin was rumored to have called it “tom turkey” after Jefferson. There's no evidence that this term was ever used during either Franklin or Jefferson's lifetimes. "Tom" is used to identify the male of the species and "hen" identifies the female.
Best Wishes to Everyone for a Happy Thanksgiving.
(Safe travels, if you will be on the road)