Wow - Turkey Day is upon us! Celebrated with feasting and family gatherings, Thanksgiving kicks off the winter Holiday season, bracing us for the winter months by bringing us together in a house warmed by the fragrance of cooking delicacies.
Because of the ongoing Civil War and the Confederate States of America's refusal to recognize Lincoln's authority, a nationwide Thanksgiving date was not realized until Reconstruction was completed in the 1870s. Much as in Canada, Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various dates throughout history. From the time of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date Thanksgiving was observed varied from state to state. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century. Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. Influenced by the campaigning of author Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote letters to politicians for around 40 years trying to make it an official holiday, Lincoln proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November in an attempt to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states.
Our images of the turkey range from those of the beautiful and colorful bird, shattering the silence with its raucous "gobbling," the males stretching their heads to the sky to make their call, to the headless, featherless bundles of white meat displayed as commodities.
Thanksgiving Day has its customs, from the Macy's parade tradition, started in 1924, to the Presidential "pardon," given at the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation, a ceremony that takes place at the White House every year shortly before Thanksgiving. The President of the United States is presented with a live domestic turkey, usually of the Broad Breasted White variety. Generally the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board are involved. The ceremony dates back to the 1940s, with presidents occasionally sparing the bird presented to them, however in these cases, the word "pardon" was not used.
The first President on record issuing a "pardon" to his turkey was Ronald Reagan, who pardoned a turkey named Charlie and sent him to a petting zoo in 1987. The reference to it being a pardon was in response to criticism over the Iran-Contra affair, in which Reagan had been questioned on whether or not he would consider pardoning Oliver North (who had yet to be tried for his involvement in the affair, a political scandal during the Reagan administration, in which he claimed partial responsibility for the sale of weapons through intermediaries to Iran, with the profits being channeled to the Contras in Nicaragua). Reagan conjured the turkey pardon as a joke to deflect those questions. Since 1989, during George H. W. Bush's first Thanksgiving as president, it has been an annual tradition for the president to "pardon" the turkey.
Here are some interesting turkey facts:
- Caruncle - brightly colored growths on the throat region. Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.
- Gizzard - a part of a bird's stomach that contains tiny stones. It helps them grind up food for digestion.
- Hen - a female turkey.
- Poult - a baby turkey. A chick.
- Snood - the flap of skin that hangs over the turkey's beak. Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.
- Tom - a male turkey. Also known as a gobbler.
- Wattle - the flap of skin under the turkey's chin. Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.
- Scientific genus and species: Meleagris gallopavo
"Wow Photo Wednesday" celebrates photographs in the Denver Public Library's Digital Collections that have "The Wow Factor" and that highlight the myriad delightful nuggets in our database.