American Expats Celebrating Thanksgiving Abroad


American expatriates who grew up enjoying the smells and tastes of roasted turkey and mashed potatoes may feel particularly homesick and nostalgic during Thanksgiving week. The holiday is a uniquely American one, with the exception perhaps of Canada (which celebrates it a month earlier), and Americans abroad will undoubtedly have a difficult time making the traditional feast anywhere else.

Turkey is, after all, a North American bird. Maize, potatoes and squashes originate in the Americas too. Although all of these Thanksgiving day hallmarks have been exported around the world, their distribution can be significantly more sparse, depending on the location.

Expats anxious to celebrate the holiday may have some tough going, but here’s some advice on how you can quench that nostalgia.

(1) While Thanksgiving is unique to North America, harvest festivals in various forms have been celebrated for millenia all around the world. Try to incorporate a local harvest festival with your Thanksgiving traditions.

(2) Plan ahead of time to order your favorite Thanksgiving day foods, possibly shipping them in from afar. In many places, it’s still possible to ship in that whole turkey if you can’t find it locally.

(3) Get together with other American expats who share your nostalgia. Introduce locals to your own traditions.

(4) Incorporate foreign foods into making your own new Thanksgiving tradition. Especially for those living in the Southern Hemisphere, or in the tropics: Fall foods simply aren’t available come Thanksgiving time. But you do have a plethora of local, exotic foods equally worth being thankful for!

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