Happy Thanksgiving! A traditional American feast with Islamic bird | 

Treehugger, Stephen Messenger

Turkish turkey

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.

It’s true.

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.

Okay, that’s all I’m posting for today. I need to attend to the bird I’ve got cooking in my Big Green Egg.

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.




Happy Thanksgiving: Two thought-leaders on things getting better | 

Flickr, ~Sage~

Thanksgiving tends to produce a standard stock (schlock?) of stories that fit the holiday theme and also appear to be produced based on the assumption nobody actually reads them.

Stories about turkeys, shopping, hunger, obesity, the wackiness of American family life or maybe the pilgrims. You can usually guess what they say without even reading them.

But here are two Thanksgiving articles that I think are well worth reading, both of them noting that we should give thanks that the world is getting better.

Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times asks Are we getting nicer? Yes we are, Kristof says:

It’s pretty easy to conclude that the world is spinning down the toilet.

So let me be contrary and offer a reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving. Despite the gloomy mood, the historical backdrop is stunning progress in human decency over recent centuries.War is declining, and humanity is becoming less violent, less racist and less sexist — and this moral progress has accelerated in recent decades. To put it bluntly, we humans seem to be getting nicer.

Kristof then goes on to cite evidence of increasing amounts of niceness.

Over at Foreign Policy magazine, Charles Kenny (author of the book Getting Better) similarly suggests we should all be Counting our blessings. Says Kenny:

It’s been a tough year, and one in which a lot of people around the world might be struggling to find things to be thankful for. In the United States, unemployment remains stubbornly high, growth stubbornly low, and good sense on Capitol Hill stubbornly absent. European debt, meanwhile, looks about as secure as a Las Vegas mortgage. But look more broadly at the state of the world and there’s a lot going right — so give that thanks and pass the gravy.

Kenny then goes on to list 10 facts (the blogosphere likes lists, especially lists of 10, however arbitrary they may be) that demonstrate the world, overall, is on an upswing.

He begins by noting the increased amount of vegetarianism, a trend turkeys — if not turkey farmers — can also celebrate.