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In many parts of the world the traditional Christmas table is arranged around a roast turkey. There are a lot of ways to prepare it, but the Christmas turkey always remains as the traditional main course of the festive menu.
As a tradition the Christmas turkey first appeared in England in the 16th century. Before that popular Christmas delicacies were the boar, goose, bustard, cockerel, and only the rich could afford a peacock or a swan. The turkey was introduced into Europe by Spanish officers on a return from the New World, or America, which is where this bird originates from. According to a popular legend in the 16th century King Henry VIII was the first monarch to have a turkey for Christmas. The tradition rapidly spread across the country; however roast goose remained most common until the Victorian era. The tradition spread into the US and Canada in the 20th century – most Christmas customs in the US were adopted from those in the UK. Turkeys were first associated with Thanksgiving Day, and later with Christmas. Before that the most common meal on the holiday was pork ribs as special food at that time. The reason is that most animals were slaughtered in November, so the pork ribs were available only during the Thanksgiving – Christmas season.
Roast turkeys are often stuffed with variety of products, and served along with boiled or steamed vegetables, roast potatoes or sometimes boiled and smashed. Sometimes the bird is brined before rosting to enhance its flavor and moisture content. This tradition has been adopted in many countries like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Around the holiday season, sometimes it is almost impossible to purchase a turkey without ordering it in advance.
Approximately 10 million Christmas turkeys were consumed in 2008 in UK. 7,734,000 turkeys were eaten in the UK on Christmas Day, 2009. At Christmas 2011, 4.4 million whole turkeys were purchased by Canadians, equal to 46% of all whole turkeys that were sold over the year. At Thanksgiving 2011, 3 million whole turkeys were purchased in Canada, or 32% of all turkeys purchased over the year. It seems Canadians, not like neighboring Americans, prefer roast turkey for the Christmas dinner.