Difference Between Thanksgiving Day and Turkey Day

Thanksgiving Day is the day of giving thanks it is the most celebrated festival of America and Canada; that celebrates the harvest.


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It was first celebrated in the USA, to give thanks to the Native Americans who helped the early settlers (pilgrims) to grow crops, fish, and hunt and make their life easy on the new land.

It is a 3-day long festival where people travel from all over the country to celebrate the holiday with their families.

Traditional Thanksgiving food includes turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries sauce, pumpkin pie, and many more.

Thanksgiving is also called Turkey day by some people, as it reminds them that turkey is the main course on the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Turkey Day It’s just a fun way to say Thanksgiving, it has nothing to do with not wanting to use the word Thanksgiving, it’s just that people love funny nicknames and ways to say things.

Thanksgiving Day vs Turkey Day

The difference between Thanksgiving Day and Turkey Day is that Thanksgiving day refers to a festival, where people thank for all the blessings they receive in their life. Whereas, Turkey day resembles the feast with turkey as the main course on the table. However, it is the two different names of the same festival with different meanings. Cornucopia( a horn filled with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and flowers) is the symbol of Thanksgiving whereas according to people who call Thanksgiving as Turkey Day for them turkey symbolizes Turkey day.

Thanksgiving Day vs Turkey Day

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Thanksgiving Day: People celebrate Thanksgiving day so, that they can be thankful for the good things in their lives, it is the day when people celebrate their happiness with their families, relatives, and friends.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in the Mid Autumn of 1621 when the pilgrims hosted a feast, to thank the Native Americans for helping them to get a good harvest.

It was only on October 3, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday upon the request of a writer Sarah Josepha Hale who is famous for her poem Mary had a little lamb; she wrote letters to President Abraham Lincoln for years to make it a national Holiday.

Turkey day: By the end of the 19th-century people across the country called Thanksgiving as Turkey day, which gives the turkey a permanent place on the Thanksgiving table.

People cook a turkey on this day and serve turkey as the main course on the table. Many people cook turkey once a year, particularly on this day hence, it is called Turkey day.

It can be also considered as the nickname given to Thanksgiving Day.

Turkey is a native to North America which is chosen to be served at the early Thanksgiving, and they were big, big enough to feed and enjoy with the family, which compel people to call Thanksgiving as Turkey Day.

Also, there was no turkey at the first Thanksgiving table. However, when Sarah Josepha Hale ran a campaign to make Thanksgiving as the National Holiday she also shared a recipe of stuffed turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce which later became the main food items of Thanksgiving Day.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonThanksgiving DayTurkey Day
First came into ExistenceIt came into existence in the Mid Autumn of 1621

It came into existence by the 19th century.
Purpose It is celebrated to give thank for all the good things that we have in our life.It is just to remind us that turkey is the main dish on Thanksgiving.
Related toIt is related to the emotional feelings of the people.When we say Turkey day, it is in related to the food items in Thanksgiving.
Emerge due toIt was the result of the continuous effort of Sarah Josepha Hale.It was the outcome of people’s minds as they see a turkey as the main dish at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
NomenclatureThanksgiving Day is a noble name given to express our gratitude towards others.Turkey Day is a nickname or a synonym of Thanksgiving.

What is Thanksgiving Day?

It all started when a group of people known as Pilgrims came to Settle in Massachusetts in a broad ship called MayFlower in 1620, when they arrived it was too late to farm, their first winter was full of miseries, they did not have enough food to eat, their fellow members were starving and dying from diseases they have nothing to do but to wait for this time to pass.

The following spring the Native American tribe came to their rescue, they taught them how to grow crops, hunt, and fish.

The Pilgrims were lucky as they have a huge harvest in the mid-Autumn of 1621. They wanted to thank the Native American tribe, so they organized a feast to thank them all.

It was a three-day-long feast, before dining they thank the Mighty Lord for all the food, wealth, and heath that he bestowed on them. So, this is how Thanksgiving started.

Later it was declared a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln.

It was possible due to the untiring effort of Sarah Josepha Hale who is considered as the godmother of Thanksgiving, she wrote letters to President Lincoln for years to make it a National Holiday.

As a result, people celebrate Thanksgiving as one of the important festivals in the United States Of America and Canada, and other parts of the world.

What is Turkey Day?

Turkey Day is nothing but a nickname given to Thanksgiving, people don’t mean to disrespect or try to lessen the value of Thanksgivings day by calling it Turkey day, it just reminds them of the importance of turkey in their Thanksgiving table without which the feast is incomplete.

No matter what people call it, the values of Thanksgiving day will always remain the same as long as people have the feeling of gratitude and respect in their hearts.

The reference of Thanksgiving to Turkey day reminds people that it’s the time to feast and enjoy a delightful meal with their loved ones. 

Main Differences Between Thanksgiving Day and Turkey Day

  1. Thanksgiving day is a name of a festival whereas Turkey day is the other name of Thanksgiving day
  2. When we refer to Thanksgiving Day it means to be thankful for the good things we have in our lives whereas when we say Turkey day it mainly refers to the dish made of turkey.
  3. Thanksgiving reminds us of when the Pilgrims first came to North America, whereas Turkey day is a reminder of the importance of turkey in our Thanksgiving table.
  4. Sarah Josepha Hale is the God Mother of Thanksgiving, whereas Turkey day is the outcome of human nature of naming things.
  5. The festival is called Thanksgiving because people celebrate and thank for all the blessings in their lives, on the other hand, it is called Turkey day because most people cook one turkey a year especially on this day and therefore it is good-naturedly christened “Turkey Day”.
Difference Between Thanksgiving Day and Turkey Day
  1. https://academic.oup.com/jcr/article-abstract/18/1/13/1813819
  2. https://minds.wisconsin.edu/bitstream/handle/1793/62506/BALCER11AF.rtf?sequence=7
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