Maybe the hardest part about living abroad is being away from your family for the holidays.
But Bob and I also look forward sharing some American traditions with new friends, by hosting our first Thanksgiving.
For our South African audience, some quick explanations…
Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, is probably the most important national holiday in the United States, celebrated by every ethnic and religious group. Sure, the Fourth of July is our independence day, but Thanksgiving is the one that people will travel halfway across the country to spend with their family.
American tradition links the holiday to an autumn harvest feast first celebrated by the Pilgrims and Indians in 1621. In their modern form, Thanksgiving celebrations are focused on giving thanks to God. But the First Thanksgiving appears to have honored a more earthly benefactor: the Native Americans community that helped the settlers survive.
Since the 1860s, Thanksgiving dinner has been celebrated with turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. But according to the sources linked above, the First Thanksgiving probably featured none of these dishes, but was dominated by fish, shellfish, duck, and cornbread. Can you imagine serving lobster at Thanksgiving dinner? Perish the thought.
For us, Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to honor the many South Africans friends who have helped us settle in on this new continent. Since South Africans don’t get Thursday off from work, though, we’ll have to wait until the weekend to celebrate.
Meanwhile, a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at home this Thursday!
And be sure to check out Bob’s favorite Turkey Day recipe.