Added 958 days ago. 3 December 2021

Did you know… More than 10 million turkeys are consumed at Christmas, each year? Why? This blog explores the question “why do we eat turkey?" on Christmas day.

With the festive season in full swing, now is the time to begin preparations for Christmas dinner to ensure you are eating some delicious turkey with all the trimmings on the 25th December. But just why do we eat turkey?

In this blog, we head back 500 years to find out why turkey is such a societal tradition of the festive season.

Why Did We Start Eating Turkey?

Turkey hasn’t always been a staple part of the traditional Christmas dinner we know and love today, in fact more than 500 years ago people would consume Goose, Boars’ head and even Peacock!

Farmers wouldn’t want to opt for chicken or beef alternatives because it was beneficial to save their livestock to produce more eggs and milk, which were historically much more expensive.

However, in 1526 turkey was first bought to the UK by Yorkshire born man, William Strickland. William acquired six turkeys from his travels. From there, farmers began to realise that the other meats; Goose, Boar and Peacock could be used to produce other foods.

Back then, turkey became a luxury as it would cost approximately a week’s wages to purchase. In the 1500s, Henry VII was the first English King to have turkey alongside his Christmas trimmings, but it was Edward VII who made the festive meat, fashionable.

Furthermore, in 1843, Charles Dickens bought the iconic Christmas dinner scene to our screens. Do you remember the scene?

Turkey has only become a mainstream addition to our Christmas dinner in the last 60 years, post-World War II. As people can now afford to purchase the festive bird and have refrigerators in their homes to preserve the turkey until the 25th December or keep it as leftovers for sandwiches, stews or salad. 

Which Countries Eat Turkey?

Did you know - Over 10 million turkeys are eaten at Christmas, each year?

But we want to know, just where are they being eaten? In Britain, US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand roast turkeys are a staple part of Christmas dinners – it’s fair to say it’s not Christmas dinner without one, unless you are vegetarian of course!

However, whilst we consume turkeys, it’s not always the choice of meat to consume in other countries… In fact, it is hugely rare in Europe, places such as Germany opt for traditional meats such as venison or wild boar. Whereas, Portugal and Sweden opt for seafood alternatives such as caviar or raw fish to celebrate the Yuletide season. 

Where ever we are in the world, one thing is for sure! We love to celebrate Christmas.

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