Happy Thanksgiving Humanospherians!
Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season in the United States, in which we honor our historical traditions by giving thanks and eating a big bird named after an Islamic country.
The American bird we call “turkey” was named after the country of Turkey, which is technically secular but culturally, predominantly Islamic. It’s actually pronounced ‘tur-kee-yeah’ and spelled Türkiye, by the way.
The Brits couldn’t quite say the country name correctly back in the old days and so, in English, we say Turkey. As the linked story above from Treehugger notes, along with this longer one from The Straight Dope, the pilgrims named the wild American bird after a similar-looking bird known as the ‘Guinea fowl’ imported by Anglos from Turkish traders.
Oddly, as Stephen Messenger at Treehugger notes, the Turks refer to the turkey as Hindi – bird of India.
Also, as many of you know, one of our more colorful founding fathers Ben Franklin preferred this bird named for the Islamic country to the bald eagle as national bird (just imagine the Colbert Report with a majestic turkey swooping in at you). Franklin explained why:
The Bald Eagle is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.
So Happy Turkey Day!
Let’s all dig in to that big noble bird and remember to give thanks to the Republic of Türkiye, the Brits’ inability to pronounce things correctly, Turkish traders and the highly globalized view of things our forefathers had even before we were a country.
Bonus holiday treat below – Turkey Lurkey Time video from some 1960s musical illustrating how Americans celebrate holidays.
It’s one of those things that’s so bad it’s good.