Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let's Talk Turkey

O.K., for those of us in the States, the only thing on our mind is turkey.  Thanksgiving is coming up and it is time to overstuff ourselves with turkey, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, green beans, pumpkin pie, and a whole bunch of other stuff.  But when it comes down to it, it is the turkey that we are all waiting for.

So, being a mythology fan and all, I wondered where turkey comes into mythology.  I don't remember Zeus ever turning himself into a turkey to snag some river nymph (but who knows with him).  So I did some searching.  Here is what I found:

The scientific (genus) name for turkey is Meleagris.  It comes from both the Latin for guinea bird and the Greek hero Meleager, the guy who led the charge along with Atalanta in the Caledonian Boar hunt.
In North America, the Native Americans and early Canadians believed that the turkey help create the world and showed humans how to grow corn and fight off evil spirits.  In fact the turkey in these myths is smarter than the owl and able to challenge the eagle in hand-to-hand  errr, wing-to-wing combat.

According to Hopi tradition, the male turkey is bald because it was the first animal to try and raise the sun to the sky, burning his head for his efforts.  I'm assuming the rooster won that one.

To the Aztecs, the god Tezcatipoca like to take the turkey form.  He is an evil god, except when he took his "jeweled turkey" embodiment and instead of evil, gave good luck to others.  He could also forgive sins in turkey form.

Me?  I just want to eat the thing.  Oh, and of course get my wish granted from pulling the wish bone.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, even those of you for whom this is just another day.

There is more about the turkey that can be found at this site.



Love it! I never suspected that the turkey appeared in mythology, much less took on the eagle in combat! A little tough to picture if you're familiar with the domestic turkey (yes, they really can drown in a rainstorm) but the wild turkey is whole different -- and wilier --- creature.

Lord Alford said...

I didn't think I would find anything either, but thought I'd try just in case. Man, I'm stuffed. My wife cooked a huge Thanksgiving lunch for her side of the family and then we went to my side of the family for supper! The things we do to make our family happy! Hmmm, maybe I'll go in the kitchen and fix a turkey sandwich or something...

jordanqueenoftheworld said...

Very fun post! I enjoyed it immensely! I obviously don't know enough about my food... and now I want a sandwich too... darn.