Thanksgiving in Europe was really weird. Mostly because it doesn’t exist. One of the most important American holidays, and it has absolutely no relevance to any culture except our own. It’s weird to think about. Having Thanksgiving here was interesting. It’s a holiday dedicated to family and food, and family is pretty far away now for most of us. Luckily, I have a cousin who is currently living in Madrid! Not exactly right next door, but definitely close enough to visit!
One of the weirdest parts of European not-Thanksgiving is the fact that because there’s no holiday before Christmas, there’s Christmas decorations everywhere before the month of December even begins! Thanksgiving marks the end of fall and the beginning of American Christmas celebrations, but without that marker things start much earlier here. While I visited Madrid I got to see all of the Christmas lights in the city and the Christmas markets as well!
It was difficult getting the food that we traditionally associate with Thanksgiving too. Cranberry sauce and pumpkin to make pie had to be bought at the American import store, thanks to the efforts of my cousin Becky! Even with the pumpkin pie taken care of, there wasn’t a turkey to be found. We substituted with a roast chicken, which while not the festive turkey we’re used to, was still delicious. Most of our Thanksgiving feeling came from the potato dishes we made! Mashed potatoes and candied yams were a great reminder of the holiday season. Of course it really felt like Thanksgiving when we ate pumpkin pie!
The rest of my time in Spain was amazing as well. Not only did we walk all over Madrid and eat chocolate and churros, we also went on a day trip to Segovia! The city was absolutely gorgeous, and houses that castle that the one in Disneyland is modeled after.
One of my mother’s favorite holiday traditions is for everyone to go around the table and say what it is they’re thankful for this year. It’s like pulling teeth usually, with a lot of groans and complaints, but it really is a nice family tradition. I have so much to be thankful for this year. I am studying abroad in this amazing city of Rome, I’m traveling all over the rest of Europe and really experiencing the continent, and even with the distance from my family, I could still have a nice Thanksgiving dinner with a cousin I haven’t seen in forever. Thanksgiving in Europe took a little more effort to pull together than normal, but it was definitely worth it!