Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a time to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. One of the most popular Thanksgiving traditions is eating turkey.

The first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 and included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Native Americans. It is believed that the feast lasted three days and included venison, fowl, fish, shellfish, berries, fruits, vegetables, and pumpkins. There is no mention of turkey in any of the accounts of that first Thanksgiving.

But why turkey? Why not ham or chicken? Turns out, there are a few reasons why turkey became the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

How did the turkey become the star of Thanksgiving dinner?

The turkey was not always the main event at Thanksgiving. In fact, it wasn’t even served at the first Thanksgiving feast. So how did this tradition start?

There are a few theories. One is that early European settlers in America mistaken wild turkeys for a type of grouse called a guinea hen. Another theory is that Spanish explorers brought turkeys back to Europe from the New World and that they became popular as a holiday dish.

Whatever the reason, turkey gradually became more popular as a Thanksgiving food in the 1800s. By the mid-1900s, turkey was such a Thanksgiving staple that Americans began calling Thanksgiving “Turkey Day.”

Today, Americans consume more than 17 pounds (7.7 kilograms) of turkey per person every year. That’s about 280 million turkeys!

So next time you sit down to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast, remember the humble turkey and give thanks for all of your blessings. Happy Thanksgiving!