Whether your family goes with the standard holiday fare or you have that weird cousin who insists on trying odd new dishes on the last Thursday of November (just to be clear: we don’t need any odd foreign ingredients or new age vegetables inserted into our stuffing – please stop messing with a perfect formula), turkey remains the star of all Thanksgiving meals. But why? Why not chicken or ham or pork or even fish?
Unfortunately, the truth is rather anticlimactic. The real reason turkey was served among several other meats at the first Thanksgiving was merely because it was available.
Edward Winslow’s A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth (dated 1621) references deer and some fowl being hunted for the feast and William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation” also carries a mention of hunting parties going in search of wild birds before the meal but neither document offers any hilarious “and the Gods decreed turkey to hold the cure for old age!” belief.
Colonists went after turkey in the late fall because they just needed additional food and the big gobbler was one of the few available sources of meat. However, there is some logic that explains why turkeys became and remained the centerpiece of choice for late fall feasts beyond “well, because they were there”:
- unlike chickens with their eggs and cows with milk – both in the colonial era and at present – turkeys (whether wild or raised on a farm) do not provide anything substantial to humans other than meat and to slaughter them carries no real economic repercussions
- turkeys were cheaper than chickens, larger than quail, and much easier to hunt than geese
- turkeys born in the spring would usually grow to ideal eating size just in time for the fall holidays, meaning no time, money, or food was expended to keep turkeys around just to slaughter them later (once they were primed to be eaten, it was time to eat them) - Article by Justin Brown
…They did not honor Him as God or give thanks.(romans 1) Clearly, honoring God as God leads us naturally into thankfulness. To honor Him as God is to honor His limitless love, His benevolence and care, His provision and uncountable gifts. To fail in thankfulness is to fail to honor God — and this is the biblical description of fallen and sinful humanity. We are a thankless lot.
Sinners saved by the grace and mercy of God know a thankfulness that exceeds any merely human thankfulness. How do we express thankfulness for the provision the Father has made for us in Christ, the riches that are made ours in Him, and the unspeakable gift of the surpassing grace of God? As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” [2 Corinthians 9:15].
So, observe a wonderful Thanksgiving — but realize that a proper Christian Thanksgiving is a deeply theological act that requires an active mind as well as a thankful heart. We need to think deeply, widely, carefully, and faithfully about the countless reasons for our thankfulness to God.
It is humbling to see that Paul so explicitly links a lack of thankfulness to sin, foolishness, and idolatry. A lack of proper thankfulness to God is a clear sign of a basic godlessness. Millions of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving with little consciousness of this truth. Their impulse to express gratitude is a sign of their spiritual need that can be met only in Christ.
So have a very Happy Thanksgiving — and remember that giving thanks is one of the most explicitly theological acts any human can contemplate. O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting [1 Chronicles 16:34]. Give thanks. - Article by Al Mohler