Christmas is full of old traditions, like eating turkey on Christmas Day, sending out Christmas cards, and hanging tinsel around the house.
But why do we eat turkey on Christmas Day, and when or how did this tradition originate?
Here are the facts and history of exactly why we eat this delicious bird on Christmas!
Where Did The Tradition Start?
Turkeys were first bought into Britain in 1526 by sailor William Strickland, and in 1550, he was even given a coat of arms featuring a turkey on it.
Before this time, people used to eat geese, boars’ heads, and even peacocks for Christmas meals.
King Henry VIII was the first person to eat a turkey on Christmas Day, although the year when this happened is unclear.
In Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” which was published in 1843, at the end of the book, Ebenezer Scrooge gives the Cratchit family a turkey. It has also been recorded that Dickens’ family had a turkey for Christmas in 1843.
However, it wasn’t until the 1950’s that the turkey was a more popular Christmas meal choice than the goose.
In 1851, Queen Victoria first had a Turkey for Christmas dinner, although turkey still wasn’t widely available for Christmas at this time.
It wasn’t until after WWII, when farming became more efficient, that turkey became the traditional Christmas meal in the UK, rather than beef or goose.
Farmers needed their cows more for milk and chickens for the eggs, so instead of eating their livestock for Christmas, they’d have a turkey as it was more family-size, and they could save their livestock.
5 Christmas Turkey Facts
Today in the UK, around 10 million turkeys are eaten every year for Christmas Day.
25% of British people buy their turkeys months in advance.
A survey shows that the top three most popular ways to serve leftover Christmas turkey are: sandwiches, soups/stews, or salads.
20% of British people admit to paying more for their turkeys for “extra quality.”
87% of British people believe that Christmas would not be the same without a traditional roast turkey.
Eating turkey for Christmas dinner has been a tradition for hundreds of years, and it’s mostly down to a few important people, including a sailor, Charles Dickens & Queen Victoria.
Before turkeys were widely available in the UK, it was often goose that was consumed, but the turkey has proven to be the most festive bird and is a favorite for many families every year.