How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Abroad

While traveling and living abroad is an absolute blast, one time of year is perhaps tougher than any other to be away from your hometown and homeland – the holidays.

It seems easy enough to celebrate Christmas away from home, as most countries stock Christmas trees, decorations, and other traditional fare for the international holiday. Even if your new country doesn’t celebrate Christmas, it’ll be easy enough to find at least a few friends that do, and most people will at least know of the holiday.

Thanksgiving, however, can be hard to pull together abroad, as it is a very geographically narrow, North American tradition. Many people from abroad don’t know much about the holiday, if at all, and finding a fellow American friend to celebrate with isn’t always easy. But no worries! Thanksgiving can still be awesome.

In the spirit of giving, here’s a few tips for celebrating Thanksgiving (and any other holiday) overseas.

Celebrate traditions that serve you

Carefully consider the traditions that you and your family normally practice at home. Chances are, you enjoy some more than others. Consider each part of the tradition – do they all make you feel connected to your culture and your personal identity?

Make sure to preserve the aspects and rituals of the tradition that feel most important and meaningful to you. These are the parts that you would really miss if you skip them. For me, I love sharing a meal with loved ones, and that part of Thanksgiving (cooking, sharing, and eating) is really important to me, so I try to emphasize that aspect.

Skip the ones that don’t

While some traditions are especially meaningful, some you could definitely skip. Have you ever thought about certain traditions that you practice just because you’ve always done them – not because you necessarily enjoy it?

For me, as a vegetarian, the turkey aspect of Thanksgiving isn’t really applicable. And when I celebrate Thanksgiving abroad, turkey is almost impossible to find anyway. So I skip the meat aspect, and none of my guests miss it as they’ve never experienced Thanksgiving anyway!

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