The history behind the traditional Christmas turkey dinner – – Our News, Your Views

The history behind the traditional Christmas turkey dinner


The old turkey.

That large sized bird that has long been a mainstay of Christmas dinner here, and indeed in many other countries around the world.

But how did it all begin? How did the turkey become such a staple of the yuletide period?

Before it came to culinary prominence in Europe around the 15th-16th century, goose and cockerel were popular Christmas dinners for most people in the lower ranks of society. More affluent households would enjoy perhaps a meal with peacock, or swan.

The aristocracy’s penchant for swan meat meant that these elegant creatures nearly became extinct though, and to prevent the total eradication of the species, all swans were declared property of the monarchy. Being caught hunting them, or indeed eating them, would incur severe penalties of the medieval kind. Thus, swans soon fell to the wayside at Christmas.

Right around the same time, farmers realized that the turkey was inexpensive and relatively quick to fatten, which heralded its rapid rise to popularity at the dinner table during Christmas.

The classic menu of turkey with gravy, stuffing, and plum pudding was largely popularized by Charles Dickens’ tale ‘A Christmas Carol’ , published in 1843, and widely read in the United States. Some culinary historians would argue that Scrooge’s gift of a Christmas turkey to the Cratchit family helped to firmly establish the turkey’s rightful place at the Christmas dinner table for both modest and affluent households.

So there you have it, a brief insight of why you eat turkey on this day.

Enjoy your dinner and Happy Christmas.

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