How Different Cultures Celebrated Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time of year to gather with family and give thanks, but I’ve always wondered: ‘Is Thanksgiving the same for everyone?’ To answer my question, I interviewed a few TU students of different races and cultures and asked them to share their personal experience celebrating Thanksgiving.

Sam, 19, Indian and Caucasian mixed

Q: Does your family traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving?

A: No they don't. So the closest thing to Thanksgiving we have is the Indian New Year, which is around the same time; it's called Diwali and instead, they still have a really big feast that night but it's not typically Thanksgiving.

Q: Is there any food you eat at Thanksgiving that is part of your Indian culture?

A: So, some years my mom may make pakoras and samosas because my grandmother and my uncle on my Indian side of the family would come up for Thanksgiving and obviously my grandmother [is] from India so she really liked like the traditional foods. In India, they don't eat like turkeys and potatoes but my mom will make side dishes like the pakoras for her side of the family when they come up.

Q: Are there any Indian traditions that you participate in on Thanksgiving?

A: We say prayer in Hindi before the feast, so instead of saying what we're thankful for my grandmother and my mom will say a prayer in Hindi.

Q: What’s your favorite part about Thanksgiving?

A: Just being with my family and eating all the food -- especially the pies; my grandmother [and] my mom used to make pies and they're really good!

 

Nick, 18, Italian and European

Q: Does your family traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving?

A: Yes we do.

Q: Is there any food you eat at Thanksgiving that is part of your Italian heritage?

A: Some food we eat are mostly appetizers like salami, prosciutto, mozzarella, provolone cheese. We also have stuffed artichokes, as well as like mashed potatoes with mozzarella.

Q: Are there any Italian traditions that you participate in on Thanksgiving?

A: There's no real Italian traditions for Thanksgiving, at least in our family.

Q: What’s your favorite part about Thanksgiving?

A: Probably just seeing all my relatives who I usually don't see because they live in New Jersey. It's the one time a year where we usually all get together at the same time and have a big meal.

 

Allison, 18, Filipino

Q: Does your family traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving?

A: Yes

Q: Is there any food you eat at Thanksgiving that is part of your Filipino culture?

A: We eat ham, pancit, and lumpia and a lot of other stuff.

Q: Are there any Filipino traditions that you participate in on Thanksgiving?

A: Not really. We just hang around family and then eat dinner and watch football.

Q: What’s your favorite part about Thanksgiving?

A: Being with family and just seeing everyone. It's my grandparents and my aunt and uncles and all my cousins and we see each other like every Sunday but Thanksgiving is more "homey.”

 

Allison, 18, Jewish

Q: Does your family traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving?

A: Yes

Q: Is there any food you eat at Thanksgiving that is part of your Jewish culture?

A: At the Thanksgiving, we'll have matzo ball soup and we'll always have a loaf of halal and have hard-boiled eggs and the dill pickles and sometimes horseradish.

Q: Are there any Jewish traditions that you participate in on Thanksgiving?

A: I don’t think we do any.

Q: What’s your favorite part about Thanksgiving?

A: My favorite part about Thanksgiving would be eating all the Thanksgiving foods -- like my favorite is the matzo ball soup and the stuffing. It's a family traditional stuffing recipe so I like that part the most.

 

Kiana, 18, Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese mixed

Q: Does your family traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving?

A: Yes

Q: Is there any food you eat at Thanksgiving that is part of your Hawaiian/Japanese/Chinese culture?

A: We eat pulled pork that we call Kalua pig and then we eat manapua which is basically just steamed bread with pork on the inside.

Q: Are there any Hawaiian/Japanese/Chinese traditions that you participate in on Thanksgiving?

A: Just eating a lot. That’s what Hawaiians do.

Q: What’s your favorite part about Thanksgiving?

A: Hanging out with all my cousins, aunties, and uncles because they're not blood-related, but since we're Hawaiian everyone basically is family.

 

It was interesting to hear all of the answers I got, because a lot of what my friends eat and do during Thanksgiving differ completely from what I consider a “traditional” Thanksgiving.

Honestly, there really is no such thing as a “traditional” Thanksgiving -- everyone has their own foods and customs for the holiday. Regardless of how you celebrate, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I mean, we didn’t have classes, so it had to be good, right?