Why do we eat turkey dinners?

Ever since medieval times, Christmas has provided a great excuse to push the gravy boat out...

Photo of Christmas turkey

Swans, peacocks and boars’ heads graced aristocrats’ tables; more modest households made do with whatever seasonal fare they could find – chicken or goose, perhaps, or the odd pigeon.


It’s claimed that one William Strickland brought back the first six turkeys from the New World in 1526 during the reign of Henry VIII.

Before the introduction of the railways, Norfolk farmers would dip turkeys’ feet in tar and sand to make ‘wellies’ for the walk to London, which could take up to two months.


Like so many traditions, roasted turkey became synonymous with Christmas when immortalised by Charles Dickens. At the end of the classic A Christmas Carol, the humbled Scrooge sends a boy to buy the biggest turkey in the shop. But it wasn’t until the 20th century that Hollywood movies popularised the dish in the UK, and prices fell thanks to new farming methods.

This article was taken from BBC History Revealed magazine