thanksgiving in the philippines

It is the Saturday after Thanksgiving (American Thanksgiving) and I finally have the time to sit and write a blog entry.  To all the bloggers that were able to write a Thanksgiving post on Thanksgiving Day and still put together a feast, I salute you.  How did you do it?

And while we’re on the subject of how… Now that I have my first Thanksgiving under my belt, I honestly wonder how, how, HOW?! did my mother plan, prepare, cook, and basically just weather the holidays year after year?!  It is only this weekend that I realise just how stressful it is to put together a turkey dinner.  And I was just the sous chef to a friend!

 

Okay, now to the meat of the matter…

Thanksgiving is NOT a Philippine holiday, and yet many Filipinos–as evidenced by Facebook posts and Instagram photos–choose to celebrate this holiday each year.  And each year I have noticed that with every joyous post about being thankful, there is a post about how Filipinos shouldn’t be celebrating because it is not a Philippine holiday.  Many of those who counter the celebrations do make allowances for Filipinos who grew up in the United States or who are half-American, but they often make it clear that they feel those who have no ties to America but choose to celebrate are acting like silly posers.

Well, Thanksgiving isn’t just an American holiday.  Historically, it can be traced back to England, Holland, and other parts of Europe.  Thanksgiving celebrations were common at the end of harvest seasons, usually occurring around September to November, depending on both country and crop.  This tradition was brought to America by the first European settlers.  The first recorded Thanksgiving–though some historians say that the account was poorly documented–was when pilgrims gave thanks for their harvest after a difficult year.  Maybe the tradition continued, but not formally.  The American Thanksgiving holiday was designated to the final Thursday of November by Abraham Lincoln only in 1863.  In present day about seven countries–America included–observe formal Thanksgiving holidays.  Five of them celebrate in November and two celebrate in October.

This year’s American Thanksgiving celebration was particularly special because it was Thanksgivukkah.  For the first time in a very long time, and for the last time in another 75,000 years, Thanksgiving coincided with the first day of the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah.  You don’t have to be American or Jewish to appreciate when two holidays fall on the same day; joining holiday celebrations always puts things in perspective, especially when the central part of the celebrations involve food, an international language.

(Side note:  On the subject of food being an international language, as part of her celebration of Thanksgiving, CNN journalist, Christianne Amanpour, featured Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, two celebrity chefs who have “bridged a political divide” as the former is Israeli and the latter is Palestinian.  Check out their interview here: http://cnn.it/1c2QkaM)

 

All that being said–and before you think my thoughts have been aimless–here’s the point:  Filipinos are known to have strong family bonds, to have a strong sense of community, to have a love for parties and festivities, to love food, to be able to empathise well with others, and to begin celebrating Christmas in September.

While I understand where the naysayers are coming from, at the same time I need to ask: why not?  What is wrong with taking a day to get together with family and friends and reminding each other of the many things for which you can be thankful?  To sit around a table and share your pits and peaks of the year.  To share a meal with your loved ones and tell them what they mean to you.  Yes, maybe you do these things at Christmas, but if someone wanted to adopt a holiday that gives them another chance to do it, is it really all that upsetting?

So if any Filipino wants to celebrate Thanksgiving as an excuse to add to their Christmas season festivities, as an excuse to be with and celebrate something with family and friends, as an excuse to cook and eat a fantastic meal, as a way to connect with American relatives, or just to designate one day in their year to stop and be thankful, then by all means they should celebrate.

It isn’t hurting anyone, is it?  And man is it delicious!?

Instagram Video: http://instagram.com/p/hQkhwtEOHs/

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