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How Indian Students Can Celebrate Thanksgiving While Living Abroad

Posted on Jul 14, 2018
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On Thanksgiving Day, you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb! If you are a student in USA, UK, or Canada, you’d probably catch the Thanksgiving fever soon. Wherever you go – shops, restaurants, malls, school hall, cinema theaters – every place will be abuzz with the holiday excitement. Offices close early, families travel long distances to reunite, and shoppers throng at the markets to buy fresh produce, and of course, turkey. Many restaurants offer unbelievably good, but most people prefer to host a Thanksgiving feast at home in the company of their loved ones. On TV, weeknight Thanksgiving specials, comedy shows and movies add to the holiday cheer.

What Is Thanksgiving?

Though Thanksgiving is celebrated all over the world, it is essentially an American holiday. It is a day when families gather together to feast on a sumptuous Thanksgiving meal, and offer their prayers of gratitude for the feast, the company of the loving family. The tradition originates from the days when the first settlers called the Pilgrims came to this new land called America, which was inhabited by the Native Americans. After suffering the hostile land, famine, sickness, and loss of life of many, the Pilgrims finally managed to harvest a bumper crop in one season. That year, the Pilgrims hosted a sumptuous feast, thanking God for the bountiful crop, and taking care of them despite hardships. The tradition of Thanksgiving, that is saying thanks before a feast, continues to this day. A special prayer is said on the table, expressing gratitude for the little blessings that make our lives complete.

What You Should or Should Not Do at Thanksgiving Dinner?

1. Thanksgiving is not a ritual oriented holiday, so there are no social taboos. However, there are some customs that are considered a part of the Thanksgiving celebration.On Thanksgiving, it is customary to roast a turkey. A traditional meal includes roast turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet yam casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and some pie, which could either be a pumpkin or apple pie. The spread is usually large, and servings are plenty. Thanksgiving also includes popular cocktails and wine.

2. Thanksgiving is all about connecting with family and friends, sharing, and bonding. So, it would be considered rude if you choose to stay alienated or stick to your cellphone. You can talk about almost anything, as long as you are culturally sensitive, and polite.

3. If you have dietary restrictions, or specific preferences, it is always better to inform the host in advance rather than throw them a curve ball. If you are vegetarian, don’t make a big deal about your food choices. Simply select what you can eat, and pass the meat. If the food is not to your liking, don’t make a disgusted face. Some Indians may find American food strange to their palate. That’s fine. But you ought to have known that before you go for a Thanksgiving celebration. A part of the learning experience while living abroad is to also expose yourself to different cuisines and cultures. Allow your mind to absorb the new tastes, feelings, and experiences to build cultural diversity in your personality.

4. Football is an integral to the Thanksgiving celebration in many American households. If you are not familiar with the sport, now is a good opportunity to learn all about it. While you may still feel disconnected, make an effort to participate as much as you can.

5. Offer to assist in the kitchen. Your hosts may be grateful for an extra pair of helping hands. This will also help you warm up to the host and the family members.

6. Being an Indian in an American household, it is natural for Americans to be curious about your country, culture, and habits. In a way, you are the unofficial ambassador of your country. Whatever you say, or do will invariably reflect on your country’s reputation. Steer clear from negative comments about your nationality. You don’t have to run your country down to win over American hearts. On the contrary, nobody likes unpatriotic talk. At the same time, you don’t have to make chest-thumping claims about the greatness of your country. Keep the conversation casual, without making a big deal about your country, culture or habits.

How Indians Can Add Their Own Touch to Thanksgiving

If you are planning to host your own Thanksgiving, you can add your own touch to the celebration. You can invite some of your classmates for a Thanksgiving with an Asian touch. Since you are the host, you can try an Indian menu or keep it completely traditional. Offer grace with your friends, and ask them to say a personal prayer of thanks. You can add a touch of Indian theme with cuisine, costume, and colors.

What You Get to Learn From the America’s Favorite Holiday

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to bond with family. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and parents travel long distances just to be together for the Thanksgiving meal. It is important for families to value these ties, and keep the bond growing stronger. Thanksgiving teaches you to appreciate the little gifts and blessings we receive every day. You offer thanks for every moment you live, and the untold joys that surround and enrich your life. These experiences will make your study abroad education far more enriching than what you learn within the walls of a classroom.