Thanksgiving is a holiday most people associate with turkey dinners, family reunions, pumpkin pie, and last but not least, the unofficial start of the Great American Consumer Holiday Block culminating in Christmas shopping sprees.
For families of foreign nationalities, Thanksgiving is sometimes thought of a little differently.
“Asian relatives bring a lot of Asian food. Like, a lot,” explains Peyton Gibner, a student at Carnegie Vanguard High School. A Vietnamese- American, Gibner enjoys eating Viet egg rolls, dumplings, and Thit Nuong (BBQ pork) on Thanksgiving.
“Sometimes we also do snap fireworks cause that’s what you do in Vietnam. We light the red ones you put on the ground,” Gibner says.
Other families of foreign nationalities fit in with the American model in most ways. “I still eat turkey with my family-well, with my mom. When I’m with my dad we go to Denny’s,” admits Jose Mendoza, a student at CVHS.
Jose is Mexican-American, but his heritage does not influence his Thanksgiving traditions all that much. “You could say, it is celebrated, but my dad isn’t pushing the idea of Thanksgiving,” Mendoza said.
In Mexico and many other countries, Thanksgiving either follows the United States format or is not celebrated at all. However, the celebration of the harvest season with family and feasts is a common theme in many of the world’s nations.
“In Nigeria we have the Yam festival, but it’s not during Thanksgiving,” says Gloria Nzenwa, a Nigerian-American high school senior at Carnegie Vanguard.
In Southern India, many people celebrate Pongal on January 14, during which they thank the Sun for helping grow a plentiful crop, and cook a boiled milk and rice dish that shares the name of the tradition.
In China, there’s the Moon Cake Festival, and in Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on a different date and with different dishes.
These are a few of the examples of the ways different nationalities thank their God, their sun, or themselves for the hard work they have done during the year and, as they say in New Orleans, let the good times roll.