Face Off: Turkey, not ham, for Christmas dinner

Senior+Ellie+Moores

Senior Ellie Moores

Ellie Moores, Reporter

Choosing between eating a turkey or a ham on Christmas Day is not a matter of preference; it is a matter of history. 

The traditional Christmas meal of turkey dates all the way back to 16th century England when King Henry VIII ruled Britain. King Henry VIII is mostly known for the creation of the Anglican Church, which he started so he could divorce his wife who had not bore a son to be heir to the thrown. But what many people do not know is that he was the first English monarch to include turkey in his Christmas Day menu.

However, turkeys were expensive and most families could not afford them. This bird was reserved for the mouths of wealthy royals and elites. Even though most families ate goose for Christmas, turkey was the traditional Christmas Day delicacy. 

When looking at the classic British Christmas story, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, the turkey plays an interesting role. In one of the final scenes, Scrooge sends a boy to buy the prize turkey hanging in the window of a store. The boy believes that Scrooge is joking as this was an incredibly expensive purchase. Scrooge insists that he go buy it, promising to pay the boy back. 

But Scrooge is not buying the turkey for himself; he is buying it as a gift to Bob Cratchit, his overworked employee who he mistreats. Scrooge does this because after his night of ghostly visits, Scrooge realizes that Christmas is about being joyous and giving to others. And what better gift than the highly sought after traditional Christmas turkey? 

Turkeys have been associated with Christmas for centuries, while hams find their origin as an offering to the pagan God Freyr. So when planning out your Christmas meal this year, be sure to include a turkey, the bird traditionally associated with the Christian holiday.