thanksgiving is my absolute favourite holiday. don’t get me wrong, christmas is great, but as they say in a charlie brown christmas (which is a MUST watch btw), christmas has become too commercial. thanksgiving is not so! its hard to commercialise a meal, on one day of the year, designed to give thanks. its quality family/friends-that-are-more-like-family-than-actual-family time, tons of delicious food, american football and games.
i love it. and since my immigration to the uk, i have kept celebrating it every year. and every year the number of brits wanting to get in on my thanksgiving action has grown. so much so, that in bedford i already know of 2 thanksgiving dinners happening this year made up of all british people! so, with all the buzz, mystery and wonderfulness surrounding this fabulous, foreign holiday, i thought it was appropriate to write, a brits guide to thanksgiving.
this will include: a short history of the holiday, a general schedule of a normal thanksgiving day, an idea of what kinds of dishes to serve for it to be ‘authentic’ (no yorkshire pudding allowed i’m afraid!) and fun activities for the kids.
now time for the disclaimer: i am southern. i was born in texas and seeing as america is ginormous–texas is 1 of 50 states and it alone can fit at least 4 of the entire uk within its borders–the traditions, i am sure, vary greatly. so this is a dixie-land version of thanksgiving, mixed in with a whole lot of macilvaine* traditions.
history: contrary to cynical english belief, ‘we’ did not shoot all the indians right when ‘we’ first got to america. i say ‘we’ and not we because ‘we’ was actually y’all. yea, thats right. english settlers. the pilgrims were english, originally. so lets just do away with the blaming shall we? (please note playful, not angsty, tone!) basically, the pilgrims came on long voyage to the new world. over half of them die on the way and more die on arrival due to freezing weather and no food. all hope was gone, as they did not know how to farm this new land. enter squanto. he was a native american who helped the settlers learn to work the land. he and the leader of the settlers also signed a treaty of mutual help and peace which lasted over a century. when they had a successful and plentiful harvest the following autumn, the settlers and native americans sat down to a huge feast to celebrate and give thanks. this is what we are celebrating every year.
planning the day: thanksgiving dinner is usually anywhere between 12 and 2pm depending on your family, your organisational/cooking skills and any football games that are on! before dinner actually commences, my family usually has a lazy morning with lots of coffee. there is a huge jigsaw that we all pitch into complete. we watch the macy’s thanksgiving day parade and eat the cheeseball–a legendary and decidedly secret dish!
next we eat. during the meal we usually at some point go around and say what we are thankful for, being thanksgiving and all, and then we all lounge and watch football until the food has digested enough to make room for the pumpkin pie! then movies and games and an early night. it’s. the. best.
authentic dishes: a roasted turkey (think british christmas turkey), cranberry sauce, stuffing, baked sweet potato fluff, green bean casserole, bread rolls, mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, gingersnap gravy, pumpkin pie and pecan pie.
fun activities for kids: making your own indian headdress, handprint turkeys, pilgrim hats. you can find some tutorials on how to set up these activities, along with loads more ideas on this fabulously resourceful website.
i hope this has been a useful guide and will inspire many more parties across the uk!! if you do end up throwing a thanksgiving party please do send a photo or tell me about it in the comments!!
*my maiden name and the family of total awesomeness