It’s that time of year again everyone, Thanksgiving is around the corner. Turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, hot gravy and steamy buttermilk biscuits all waiting to be devoured by you and everyone you know. This is indeed the time to feast, practice gratitude and share love with close friends and family. To be honest, there is no better way to spend it. Wait, what? You can’t because you’re abroad and your family is back at home? Well, I understand. However, there are a few things you can do to combat that feeling of loneliness. Although you may not be at home, you can still celebrate Thanksgiving in China.
As you all may know, thanksgiving occurs on the fourth Thursday of every November. It derives from a famous harvest that occurred between the first English settlers and the Native Americans. Originally, it was a practice that was affiliated with religion, however, after 1863 it was established as a national holiday (with the help of Abraham Lincoln). Although the true story of Thanksgiving’s origins is a little shady, (If you’re interested look up the truth behind thanksgiving), it is recognized as a practice of peace and prosperity. It is a symbol of gratitude and alliance. It is celebrated in The United states, Canada and a few Caribbean islands. There are other variations of this renowned holiday, but I think we all agree that Thanksgiving is a predominantly western holiday.
Do people even celebrate Thanksgiving in China?
So you’re thinking “thanks for the history lesson, but do people even celebrate Thanksgiving in China?”. Well the answer is yes. Although it is mainly practiced in western culture, it is not completely foreign to Eastern society. In fact, it has been creeping its way into eastern culture little by little. But to be honest, this in on a very minor scale. Most of the individuals who are celebrating this holiday have either some sort of affiliation with foreigners or are indeed westerners themselves.
Can I eat the same food?
Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, buttermilk biscuits, baked ham, collard greens, sweet potato pie… I could go on and on. These are a few of the traditional foods one would typically eat during this humble time of the year. But where can one find it in China?! Has it ever occurred to you that most of these foods require some sort of household oven? Also not to mention that turkey is nearly impossible to get. Yes, this is indeed very true. I am sorry to be the barer of bad news, but it will be difficult to accumulate this year’s Thanksgiving grocery list (baking is an even tougher challenge). But do not let this stop you friends!
What you can do
One can do a number of things; you may be limited but you are not out of options. Yes, you made not be able to eat the exact same food, and yes, you may not be able to spend it with family. But the alternatives can be the next best thing. Outside of food, Thanksgiving revolves around family, loved ones and friends. There is a very high chance that other westerners are in the same position as you. Therefore, gathering with a large group of close friends (who empathize with your situation) can bring you all the more comfort. One can also take advantage of the 21st century and call, video chat, or message loved ones’ back home. Yes, the time difference may be a challenge, but it is worth it. Nothing feels warmer than seeing and speaking with family. And although the food may not be the same, there are so many unique cuisines you can experience with a group of friends. YOU ARE IN CHINA FOR CRYING OUT LOUUD! When will you have this year’s unique Thanksgiving experience again? I suggest you take advantage of the moment, and try something new and spicy at a place you have never been before.
Yes, Thanks giving is around the corner and family is far away. But it is imperative that you stay positive. Remember that the glass is always half full. There are plenty of people around China in the same boat. So get together and celebrate over a unique meal. And don’t forget to give your family a call. This year’s Thanksgiving may not be the same, but it can be just as enjoyable. I believe it is important to remind oneself that stability is just an illusion. Change is inevitable; it’s within the world’s nature. So embrace it! And as always, continue to explore, continue to discover and try everything. You never know what lies ahead!
THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR YOU
Teach English, travel and work abroad with EF English First
Post by Javier Chaney
Javier enjoys studying theology, culture and history. He is a self-proclaimed illustrator, writer and musician. He feels the world and its culture’s share far more similarities than differences. If one is given the opportunity to journey out beyond one’s comfort zone, it is their duty to share their learnings with others. Through empathy, patience and pure expression we cannot only progress in the right direction, we can solve global issues as well.