How Turkey Became a Thanksgiving Tradition
Wild turkey took its place at the table along with venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. Many of these foods have become staples of the modern Thanksgiving dinner.
Serving turkey in the USA for Thanksgiving precedes Lincoln’s nationalization of the holiday in 1863. Alexander Hamilton is said to have said that no “Citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” Dining on turkey on Thanksgiving is such a part of American culture that each year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey to the President of the United States prior to each Thanksgiving.
Turkey is such a tradition for Thanksgiving dinner that Thanksgiving day is typically referred to as “Turkey Day.” Currently American turkey growers raise around 270 million turkeys a year. The tradition of eating Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner has spread to include consuming it as a traditional Christmas food as well One third of all turkey consumption occurs during the Thanksgiving-Christmas season.
Most Thanksgiving/Christmas turkeys are stuffed with a bread-based mixture and roasted. The stuffing, or dressing (what it is called if prepared outside of the Turkey), is commonly seasoned with sage, chopped celery, carrots, and onions. Other ingredients, such as chopped chestnuts or other tree nuts, crumbled sausage or bacon, cranberries, raisins, or apples, are frequently used.
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