Friday, 23 November 2012

A British Girl's Guide to Thanksgiving

For my first ever thanksgiving, I was told to just sit down and enjoy myself. Soak in the experience.

This was not hard. Not at all.

The house decor had already transitioned from Halloween pumpkins to Harvest pumpkins…

The morning started with Mimosas, Monkey Bread and the Macy's parade.

To a Brit like me, a Mimosa sounds suspiciously like a Bucks Fizz: Sparkling wine and orange juice.

Show-off fact: A Mimosa is one part wine and one part orange juice. Bucks Fizz is one part wine and two parts orange juice.

Monkey Bread is a delicious cake of sugar and cinnamon dough balls to pick at.

The Macy's parade is another sparkling display of US bravado that feels just a little cheesy to British eyes, especially compared to the pomp and ceremony of our parades!

It's also a great opportunity for companies to secure good advertising. After each relevant float, the ad break contained corresponding commercials. Smart move.

The day has the usual holiday family frenetics full with amusing one-liners, especially when heard out of context:

I thought you would stuff the breasts.

I'm going to need a probe.

Apologize to her later when you're not naked.

And then the bird comes out.

festive turkey baster

 Show-off Fact: In the 1800s a turkey would have cost about $600 in real terms. Wild turkeys had been over-hunted and became quite rare during this time, so serving it was a real show-off.

As most British folks usually have turkey for Christmas, and I always certainly did, I wondered if it would be strange to have a huge turkey meal in a different kind of festivity.

Not at all. It's an entirely different kind of meal, preceded by grace and thanks. Thanks for long and prosperous marriages, for good grades, for health, and good food.

My husband gave thanks that we were finally able to enjoy our marriage together.

My mum, who flew over earlier this week, gave thanks for Thanksgiving as a good reason to come and visit.

I gave thanks that I've always had solid ground under my feet, and a stable roof over my head.

And then we tucked in.

Show-off Fact: Thanksgiving dinners were quite common in England during the Protestant Reformation. They were partly a protest against the showy festivals of the Catholic calendar - I wonder if the irony of this was lost on those who celebrated such a thanksgiving. They became a regular affair during November harvest festivals, and also surprisingly to celebrate Guy Fawke's night.

I wonder why, then, that Thanksgiving really hit it off after the settlers arrived in the New World, but lost prominence in the UK. In the USA it gained a new significance when Natives saved the settlers from the harsh American winters (and scurvy of course, by way of pumpkin pie). But what happened in the UK?

However, if you tell Americans that Thanksgiving was an English invention, they may not take too kindly to being informed their favorite holiday comes from those quirky Europeans with stiff upper lips and bad teeth ;)


  1. Looks like you had a great day! Being us the two of us we just had ham and roast vegs but it was great all the same. We skipped the Macy's parade for the "American Thanksgiving parade" aka the Detroit one which was brilliant all the same and great to see so many people down in the city!

    1. Philly has its own Thanksgiving parade too, but as Philly proud as this family is, we were instructed to watch the Macy's one :)

  2. Thanks for explaining the difference between mimosas and bucks fizz...turns out my bucks fizz's have been more lethal than their name suggests - I'm more of a dash of orange in a large glass of fizz kind of girl ! We had Canadian thanksgiving in October. Similar set-up, I think, but our meal definitely tasted like Christmas dinner. Not a bad thing.

    1. Oh me too. I had no idea there was a difference until I looked it up!

  3. Oooo Mimosas and monkey bread!! That sounds awesome! I also loved hearing your views on America's fascination with big and gaudy parades! hehe It does seem silly now that you say it like that but I still get excited about seeing it every year! :)

    1. Believe me, I genuinely enjoy these parades because they are quintessentially American!

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