Thanksgiving in South Africa

Autumn cornucopiaMaybe 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.


17 responses to “Thanksgiving in South Africa

  1. Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Happy Turkey Day kids! I hope that your day is filled with Thanks and lots of Giving. And Bob, you’re on 10:30 crew tonight, don’t forget.

  3. your favorite sister

    happy thanksgiving bob and lea! i miss you guys LOTS!!!!! i tried to eat my share of the mashed potatoes and stuffing but i couldn’t do it. you’ll just have to make up for that at the next thanksgiving (i think that’s two years from now 😦 ) love you tons and hope that your dinner turns out well on sunday. 😀

  4. Your mom and dad are at Myrtle Beach with me. We had friends in but missed you both when we gathered around the table. Would like to have seen you playing in the surf today. Happy Thanksgiving, we all love you. Granny

  5. Missed you today. Don’t forget to let the kids make the butter for the Thanksgiving dinner. Heavy cream and shake, shake, shake. Just make sure the lid is on tight! Wish we could be there this weekend with you. Love you both.

  6. jameswillisisthebest

    This is my first post
    just saying HI

  7. You may be interested to know you’re not alone in contemplating–and writing about–Thanksgiving from the vantage point of South Africa. Take a look at Carol-Ann’s post on, “Thanksgiving in South Africa.” And a Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  8. I cant wait for this year ‘s thanksgiving! 🙂

  9. when is thanksgiving in south africa? on which date?

  10. I notice that some of the foods that is used for your thanksgiving is crayfish and shellfish. Do you realise that these foods are unclean as per the bible. Nowhere is there a text that now allows this practise.

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