Thanksgiving is unique. It is an American holiday based on American history. No other country celebrates this treasured day, and for expats or Americans living overseas, there are challenges to marking this day with an authentic touch.
Here is my list of 6 challenges to celebrating Thanksgiving in France. Do you have your own challenge to add?
From challenge #1: In France, turkeys such as this are not ready until Christmas
Thanksgiving in France?
Here in France we have tweaked our Thanksgiving celebration to accommodate that the 4th Thursday in November, Thanksgiving Day in America, is just a regular day here in France.
As a bit of fun, here is my short list of challenges for creating a Thanksgiving holiday in France. How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your overseas location?
6 CHALLENGES TO CELEBRATING A REAL THANKSGIVING IN FRANCE
Finding the Turkey: In late November the turkeys in France are still being fattened up on the farms for French Christmas dinners. If you are lucky you might be able to find your turkey for Thanksgiving on some French turkey farm (yes, these exist!), but it will be skinny, skinny, skinny.
It is a Regular School and Work Day: The fourth Thursday in November is a normal day: no one has the day off of work, kids have school, mail still comes. Just normal. Not the ideal environment to swing into holiday mode.
No Big Sales the Day after Thanksgiving: No “Black Friday” to look forward to. (For me this is actually a plus). The thought of shopping in crowded stores with four kids to fight over bargains? This is self-inflicted insanity!
No one Else Knows What Thanksgiving is: Thanksgiving is an American holiday with origins from American history. Going around wishing everyone “Happy Thanksgiving!” returns blank stares. However, all the French who have shared Thanksgiving dinners with us have thought it was a wonderful occasion and have embraced the American history and traditions of this day.
Typical Thanksgiving Foods Are Not Available to Buy: No Libby’s pumpkin meat in the can, nor Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, nor French’s French Fried Onions, nor Stouffer’s Stuffing. These foods bring back great childhood memories and I attach them to my ‘this is the way things were before’ Thanksgiving dinner. (I have developed a recipe for homemade French’s Green Bean Casserole without French’s Fried Onions click here for recipe).
The Ambiance is Missing Something Big: No American football or Macy’s Parade on television. If you are lucky you could watch a soccer game and some French cabaret. The ambiance is missing, je ne sais quoi.