Happy (belated) Canadian Thanksgiving! By the time you read this post, you should be recovering from a “turkey coma” and eating leftovers! We had ham this year, but I have a turkey sitting in my deep freezer for an occasion when I feel the need. So, it got me thinking… why turkey? What fun facts can I learn from such poultry? Who discovered it? And why did God let such a darling bird grow into a grumpy, yet impressive thing? If you’ve been following mittonmusings for any length of time, you know my fascination with chickens… but turkeys could be on a whole other plain. Toms are mean! They will (and have) attacked people. The babies are cute, though…
The male (tom) turkey is the only one that “gobbles”. Allegedly, the girls make a “purring” noise when they are content. Who knew? The females are more like chickens… and I can’t argue with the fact that God made them quite beautiful. In fact, turkeys were once bred for their colourful plumage — not their meat. And an impressive plumage it is: an adult turkey can have 5-6 thousand feathers! Think about that next time you find a stray fluff on your dinner… imagine the Pilgrims plucking those things by hand?!
Now. Back to “Turkey”. How did they get such a name? Apparently, the Spaniards first discovered them in Mexico in the sixteenth century and took them back to Spain as part of their discovery spoils. Eventually, the gobblers made their way to England around 1541 and were given the “exotic” name of an export associated with the Turks. (A “Turkish hen”) Confusion? Yup.
Still, the birds sure tasted good, and so became a staple eat. Especially at Thanksgiving. We have the Americans to blame for that one. Roasted turkey became a traditional dish after the American revolution when the British loyalists fled to Canada as refugees and brought the meal with them. And so it stays. 39% of the total sales of Canadian turkeys in 2018 were set aside for Thanksgiving dinner. However, Christmas sales totalled 2.7 million birds: 42% of the total year’s sales. A second in the holiday stats? Do we love Christmas turkey more? Maybe only in Canada.
Canadian Thanksgiving, for those of you not from around here, does differ slightly from our neighbours to the south. Not only in our choice of dates, but our holiday involves less football, there’s no big parade, and certainly no black Friday shopping. We get less time off and we tend to focus on the three F’s: food, friends/family and fellowship! Turkey or no turkey.
In fact, our Canadian Thanksgiving is more associated with the harvest season. In 1859, the ministers tried to ask the colonial government to initiate the holiday of Thanksgiving to “thank God for His existence — evident by His bountiful Harvest granted to His people” (a little different from the focus of our American counterparts).
And harvest can be a beautiful time. The weather is great, the colours are fabulous, and the food is plentiful! A perfect excuse for a holiday! Although, I did muse as we drove through the colourful tree-lined roads this weekend: What beauty is in death… the fall colours are really a bunch of tree leaves dying and preparing for a long, hard winter. Sorry, I digress.
Thanksgiving turkeys. Whether you like a stuffed bird or not, the holiday should be about more than the food. Thanks – giving. God reminded His people to celebrate, and celebrate often, in remembrance of all He has done for us! Especially now. In this world so full of despair and darkness, our attitude of gratitude should be all that more evident. I am trying to remember this every time I look at my grocery bill! Thank you, Lord, that I am able to provide for my family. Many are finding it increasingly difficult these days. Is it just me, or are prices going up all around us? But this is a muse for another day. Perhaps, I do need to think about having a few turkeys in my flock of someday-hope-to-have-chickens. I’ll start with the cute little ones.