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How Different Cultures Celebrate Thanksgiving

Today, we live in such a culturally diverse society in which no nation is unique to only one culture, religious or ethnic group. The U.S. especially, is recognized as a melting pot, due to the large influxes of immigrants the country has experienced for decades from all across the globe. Even though these immigrants have brought with them their own culture and traditions from their country, many of them have adopted American culture and traditions as well. 

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I was curious as to how people from different cultures who reside in the United States, celebrate Thanksgiving with their families and the dishes they enjoy so I asked around.

1. African-American:

“As an African-American who’s mother is half-Jamaican, for Thanksgiving my mom usually makes a nice big Turkey, chicken with dressing(which means stuffing), ox tails, pot roast, baked macaroni and cheese, rice and peas, candied yams, potato salad, deviled eggs, collard greens, cabbage, and either lasagna or baked ziti.  For dessert my mom makes 2 sweet potato pies and banana pudding. My immediate family eats at home first and we make a plate for my grandmother and family friends who live close by. Then we go over to my grandma’s house where a lot of my extended family go to spend Thanksgiving and there’s usually similar food at her house.”   -Me.

2. Korean:

“For thanksgiving, it is only my immediate family which includes me, my two sisters and my parents. We just chill and talk about what’s new because me and my sisters don’t live with my parents anymore. For dinner, we have roast beef ham, mashed potatoes, and a couple different casseroles and for dessert we have pecan pumpkin pie. We also go to bed early for black Friday.”  -Jess W. 

3. Jamaican:

“My great aunt makes Thanksgiving dinner, and we eat Jamaican food but with a huge turkey. Usually my family from Jamaica will come up too, so it’s a lot of people in a really small house. We eat rice and peas, baked macaroni and cheese which is kind of spicy, banana bread, breadfruit, and rum cake. After dinner we rant about American politics and the adults smoke cigarettes and drink wine and then us college kids will usually drink the rest of it.”  -Ellie F. 

(Another friend who’s also Jamaican stated her favorite Thanksgiving dishes as curry chicken and baked macaroni & cheese)

4. Indian:

“For Thanksgiving, as an Indian and vegetarian, we don’t eat the normal Thanksgiving food. We usually make a big meal with salad, lasagna, etc. We have family come over for lunch and then watch a movie at home or we eat lunch as a family and then go to a get-together at a friend’s house.”  -Janvi J. 

5. Haitian:

“I’m Haitian, so on Thanksgiving my family enjoys traditional Haitian dishes such as black rice, and corn mixed with ground beef but we also have a turkey, brown rice, baked ziti, sweet potato, beets, curry shrimp, and steak. For dessert we have rum cake, sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie. My family also always served dinner early, so around 3pm or 4pm, we say a prayer and what we’re thankful for and proceed to feast!”  -Jerry P. 

6. Puerto Rican

“I live in Puerto Rico, so a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving typically includes rice and beans, turkey seasoned like pork called pavochon (Pavo means turkey and lechon means pork). We also have morcillas, a type of sausage, and a dessert like flan, coquito, and arroz con leche.​” –Alexis H.

6. Portuguese:

“Both my parents and their families descend from Portugal, with my siblings and I being the first generation to be born in the United States. My parents didn’t really know what Thanksgiving was until after they had arrived to the U.S. and my sister and I brought home stories about this tradition. But they’ve adopted it as their own, making sure that our family is together on that Thursday. We have a turkey with gravy, filled with stuffing. We don’t have cranberry sauce or any sort of pies, but we do have mashed potatoes (and roasted potatoes because those are my favorite). We also have white rice and a salad, which we have at every other meal during the year. This is all followed by some sort of dessert, either a chocolate cake or chocolate chip cookies and some sort of store bought cookie that my parents want to try. It isn’t much, especially for a holiday that’s always advertised as one where you need to loosen your belt. But for something that my parents adopted from scratch, it’s Thanksgiving to me.” -Diana C. 

Even though we may eat different foods or celebrate Thanksgiving differently as a result of our own unique cultures, we all have interpreted Thanksgiving as a holiday that emphasizes the importance of family! 

My name is Zaynah Anderson. I'm a sophomore majoring in Television, Radio and Film with a minor in Marketing. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY which I love dearly but my dream is to move to Los Angeles, CA after college to launch a successful career in entertainment. I love children, music, writing, binge-watching shows on HGTV and I LOVE PIZZA!
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