Here I intend to define Thanksgiving and then define why people tend to eat turkey at Thanksgiving. This also includes showing where religion comes into Thanksgiving and how the Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving as well as the North American people.
Thanksgiving is a thank you ceremony for the previous harvest
If one were to boil down the strictest meaning behind Thanksgiving then being thankful for the harvest is probably the strictest. This definition takes it back down to the absolute basics. It removes any ideas of the first Thanksgiving involving Native Americans and removes any idea of religion. The idea of being thankful is simply an appreciation for all the harvest has brought, where people pat each other on the back instead of praising a deity.
The date is also special because of the harvest festival, the Protestant Reformation and the collaboration with the Native Americans at the time. Even though the Native American side of it turned out badly in the end, it was a part of the first Thanksgiving and so is celebrated alongside the harvest and religious side to Thanksgiving.
Religion is deeply rooted in Thanksgiving
Where god comes into play regarding Thanksgiving comes from the “thankful” part of the day. People may ascribe their thanks to the people who grew the crops and raised the livestock; however, America was and still is a religious country. This means that when thanks is given it is given to a god. People give thanks for what they have received by thanking a god/deity.
Beer and fowl were at the first Thanksgiving
This is why Turkey is eaten at Thanksgiving. The fowl that was slaughtered was probably chicken or turkey, and since Americans tend to have turkey less frequently than chicken, it seems only fair that turkey be eaten at Thanksgiving. There is also the pragmatic side to the tradition. Back in the olden days when people had less money and resources, a large family meal with friends and such would call for a lot of food. There is more food on a turkey than on a number of chickens. The amount of food on a turkey would be too much for a regular gathering but just fine for a larger gathering.
Canada celebrates Thanksgiving too
Few people know that when they define and celebrate Thanksgiving that the Canadians celebrate it too. Some consider Thanksgiving another tradition like Christmas which means it is just another holiday. But, it is a tradition and many people wish to hold up traditions even if they do not believe in the religious side or the historical side of it.
Turkey was part of the meal
William Bradford wrote about turkey hunts with the colonists, which added weight to the idea that the first Thanksgiving had turkey in it. Secondly, when Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday he had turkey on the menu which further secured its role in Thanksgiving. It again is a pragmatic food for people in large gatherings to eat on Thanksgiving.