Carstens: Why is the Turkey bird the only word?


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

UDCC dining center hosted their annual turkey dinner for students on Nov. 19. Whole turkeys were carved to students’ liking and served fresh alongside stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Courtney Carstens

Bird is the word – or so it seems when it comes to Thanksgiving. But if often ask myself why the turkey such an important bird when it comes to this up coming holiday? Is it really a crime to have ham, pork or other meats as a substitute for this particular meal? No, it’s not a crime but more and more it seems to me that not liking the meat of the season is a big deal.

The turkey is such an essential component of the holiday for some people, but the reason for turkey being the national holiday bird is unknown. There are only a myths.

According to, the origin of the turkey being the bird of Thanksgiving isn’t certain but many historians have theories to answer the unsolved question. One such theory is that while we know fowl on the menu at the first Thanksgiving meal we can’t say that Turkey was eaten, but we do know that a pilgrim by the name of Edward Winslow went Turkey hunting before the meal according to his own personal logs.

Another theory suggests that picking the bird was to spite the Queen of England. In the 16th century, a group of Spanish ships were going to attack England, and Queen Elizabeth heard the news while she was having dinner. She ordered another goose because of her excitement. Historians believe that the settlers wouldn’t have goose so they roasted a turkey instead.

The point of me telling you these theories? We don’t know the origin of this famous bird, so I again beg the question, why is it such an important facet of this meal and why do I feel like a criminal every time someone gives me a weird look about not liking turkey? There is nothing wrong with having ham or pork or something equally delicious for Thanksgiving – I promise it won’t make you any less thankful.