This year’s lucky pair of turkeys that received a presidential pardon for not being sent to a slaughterhouse is Chocolate and Chip. The turkey symbolizes American festivity and character distinguished from all other birds of feathers, such as the eagle, the dove, or even the phoenix. So then it’s only natural to find out why the turkey has become the signature bird of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thanksgiving day.
Benjamin Franklin, the amiable and ingenious American polymath founder, associated a virtue of morality, bravery, and strength with the natural characteristics of the turkey native to the American continent. He proposed that the bird be an emblem of the New Country. While the mystical implication of the bird with the New World has traditionally embodied in the cultural context of the pilgrim’s attributes to the nation’s founding in search of religious freedom from the Old World, the real stories about the American bird encompass the endorsement from the historical figures. George Washington proposed a Thanksgiving in 1789 as a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer,” which was chimed by Alexander Hamilton’s acclimation: “No person should abstain from having turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” But the Thanksgiving tradition began in 1863 when President Lincoln proposed the last Thursday in November as a “day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.” The regular Thanksgiving dinner menu culminated with one Sarah Joseph Hale, a magazine editor. She wrote Lincoln to urge celebrating the day with roast turkey, savory stuffing, gravy sauce, and pumpkin pie in memory of her beloved New England style of feast staple.
In Europe, the turkey was a poor man’s fanciful feast because it resembled the peacock, a dish fit for the rich. The turkey occupies a dinner table alone as if it could stuff all the hungriest souls for days and nights. I agree with Benjamin Franklin that the turkey is a fit bird to become a bird of national symbol. The eagle may look regal and lofty, but it has no ingenuousness particular to America, which will always be a young country that is still growing and will grow as long as the tradition continues from generation to generation. Happy Thanksgiving.