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Happy Thanksgiving!

Last week a friend here in L.A. asked me whether Austrians celebrate Thanksgiving too. At first I was stunned because I thought of the origins of this day and the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. But then I reconsidered. Doesn't everyone have something to be grateful for? Why shouldn't all countries recognize a  national day of giving thanks?

I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in a small café in Prague, Czech republic, which was called Red Hot & Blues. The place unfortunately closed very recently but it used to be a  favorite hangout for American expats. It was there, in 1996, that I ate my first sweet potatoes, my first pumpkin pie, and my first pecan pie. I remember the food as good but most of all I recall engaging in lively conversation with the two strangers at our table and that the café was filled with laughter and happiness. It was like a giant family party. Thanksgivings since then - one at the home of friends in Prague, another in a cabin in snowy Big Bear (a two hours drive from our home in L.A.), others with relatives in the area and with best friends in San Diego - have always brought up that same feeling.

Together with Easter Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There are no decorating orgies and no gifts which eliminates the stress of shopping for them. For one day consumerism takes a break. The focus on gratitude makes people feel blessed, and different from religious holidays the idea behind Thanksgiving unifies people. Everyone can identify on some level.

With that let me say thank you to you, my readers, for staying with Across the Pond, for commenting on my posts and for inspiring me with your own blogs.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Lorraine Seal said…
A belated Thanksgiving to you, too, Christina. I had lunch with a group of other expat American women yesterday at K&K in Salzburg. When the waiter brought in the roast turkey, all golden brown on its platter, it was adorned with two Roman candles spewing sparks nearly as high as the waiter's head. The women, some of whom have lived here 30, 40, even 50 years, remarked that the display was very Austrian.

Tomorrow we'll have turkey dinner here at the flat with friends, a couple now living in Ireland. Like me and my husband, she's American, he's Irish.

But with the Advent markets now open and red and green sprouting everywhere, I'm ready to turn my sights on Weihnacht.

Best wishes,
Thanks, Lorraine. It is good to hear that you found a way to celebrate Thanksgiving in Austria.

My husband, M., pointed out to me yesterday that other countries do have days of thanksgiving. He mentioned Erntedankfest in Austria (the harvest festival) which is celebrated on a Sunday in October, usually in a church. He is right and yet Erntedankfest, a Christian tradition observed by Christians, is not nearly as inclusive as the American Thanksgiving. It also lacks the broad scope of the American Thanksgiving. While the U.S. says thank you for everything good Erntedankfest focusses on the fruits of the current year's harvest.

I seem to remember that there is a post with impressions from an Erntedankfest on your blog but can't find it. Am I mistaken or can point me to the link?
Reese said…
Happy Thanksgiving Christina! I like the idea of Thanksgiving too, spending quality time with family and friends and being grateful for what we have. Living in Asia we haven't had any decent roast turkey and apple pie, like I've tried in Minnesota. Can't wait for the next time!

Your comment makes me curious: are there no turkeys in Asia? Or do people just not use them for cooking/roasting?
Reese said…
Hi Christina,

Good question - I don't think I've seen any wild turkey in Asia, but there should be some specialty farms that rear them. We know of someone who keeps a turkey as a pet in a beautiful old mansion in Penang.

Turkey is definitely not part of our cuisine though. Due to the growing European community in Asia, you can find them at the grocery store during holiday season but they are very expensive.

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