Tag Archives: Turkey

The first Thanksgiving service was in Newfoundland?

happy_thanksgiving_turkeyThe first Thanksgiving service known to be held by Europeans in North America occurred on May 27, 1578 in Newfoundland and Labrador,  the English explorer Martin Frobisher landed here in 1578 in his quest for the Northwest Passage. The Thanksgiving service was held to give thanks for his safe arrival in the New World.

Thanksgiving day was not declared a national holiday in Canada until 1879.

From 1921 to 1931, Armistice Day (later renamed Remembrance Day) and Thanksgiving were marked on November 11.

In 1957, the second Monday of October was set as the consistent date for Thanksgiving Day in Canada.

What about the Turkey “Wishbone”?

The ancient Romans used to pull apart chicken bones hoping for good fortune. The English picked it up in the 16th century, where it was referred to as “merrythought.” In the New World, Pilgrims played tug-of-war with the bones of wild turkeys. The term “wishbone” didn’t emerge until the 1800′s. Each person grabs an end and pulls it apart. It is believed that if you get the bigger piece, your wish will be granted.

Talking Turkey

The term ‘cold turkey’ is now predominantly used as the name of the drug withdrawal process. It is also used to refer to any abrupt termination of something we are accustomed to.

The turkey looms large in North American culture and is the centrepiece of the annual Thanksgiving meal. In the USA, ‘plain speaking/getting down to business’ is called ‘talking cold turkey’, which has been shortened in present day speech to just ‘talking turkey’.

Eating turkey and feeling sleepy

Contrary to popular belief, eating turkey isn’t the main reason you feel sleepy after a Thanksgiving feast.

The oft-repeated turkey myth stems from the fact that turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which forms the basis of brain chemicals that make people tired. But turkey isn’t any more sleep-inducing than other foods. In fact, consuming large amounts of carbohydrates and alcohol may be the real cause of a post-Thanksgiving-meal snooze.

Happy Thanksgiving

Newfoundland has a Christmas turkey tradition

Archival Moment

December 23, 1879

santa-turkey1In Newfoundland, the ‘turkey’ has long been associated with the Christmas season. One of the earliest references to the bird was made by Lewis Amadeus Anspach in his history “A History of the Island of Newfoundland”  published in 1819.  Anspach wrote:

“Men and women exchange clothes with each other, and go from house to house singing and dancing, on which occasion Christmas-boxes are expected, and generally granted previous to the performance. [The Christmas boxes are] presents, not in coin. . . but in eatables, from a turkey or a quarter of veal or mutton, or a piece of beef just killed for the occasion, down to a nicely smoked salmon.”

Anspach was referring to the Christmas tradition of ‘mummering’; as part of the tradition food was given to the mummers for their performance.

A document written in 1584 lists supplies to be furnished to future colonies in the New World; “turkies, male and female” were included on the supply list. It is possible then that turkeys may have been part of the supplies furnished to the early settlers in Newfoundland at Cupids (1610) and in Ferryland (1621).

For some, they were determined to have the turkey on their Christmas table, by any means! The local St. John’s newspaper The Evening Telegram reported under the headline “The Unfortunate Turkey” on December 23, 1879:

“Martin Phelan, Seaman, 37 Boggans’ Lane (St. John’s)  got into trouble yesterday and it was all about a turkey. Martin, being something of an epicure, felt an irresistible desire to adorn his table on Christmas Day with a fat turkey belonging of Captain McIssac and he so far succeeded into getting the biped into his procession, but Martin committed a larceny, the result of which was that he had to appear before his worship (Judge Prowse) who remanded him for a week. It is now more than probably that he will have to take Christmas Dinner in the Penitentiary.”

Recommended Song: The Man That Slits The Turkey’s Throat At Christmas by Robin Laing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2nFE_kuyeA

Old Word: “biped” an animal that uses two legs for walking.