Thanksgiving In Singapore Isn’t Just For Americans – By American Expat Andrea McKenna

13 November 2019

Some people think Christmas decorations come out in Singapore way too early – Thanksgiving isn’t even over, and the ginormous Christmas tree is already up on ION Orchard!

Thanksgiving in Singapore might not be as big of a thing as other holidays, but for those of us living here, we still look forward to the end of November for the big day of giving thanks.

Thanksgiving is a huge feast for family and friends to come together to eat the traditional turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, etc.…

Some even add ethnic dishes to celebrate where their families came from, like pasta and sauce (Italian), kielbasa (Polish) or arroz con gandules (Puerto Rican).

See also: Unusual Facts about American Thanksgiving to Share with International Friends

The holiday dates back to 1621 when the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, celebrated their first Harvest with the local Wampanoag American Indian tribe.

Fish, corn and turkey were definitely on the menu, along with some kind of bread pudding that my elementary school class once made from some old, passed-down recipe. (It was terrible! For a much better version, here’s Chef Bobby Flay’s recipe for Thomas Jefferson’s bread pudding.)

Book readers may recall that in Elizabeth Gilbert’s blockbuster book, “Eat Pray Love” a group of Liz’s friends in Italy celebrated a Thanksgiving dinner and each went around a circle and said what they are thankful for.

I have seen that “gratitude circle” occur more and more over the years.

I took part in a Thanksgiving dinner with my sister’s in-laws, who are from Jamaica. Along with jerk chicken and other West Indian food, they added the ritual of going around the room to say what we were thankful for.

With a strong focus on the “mercies of God” they encouraged each other to thank the lord for what they had– “Praise God!” It was really nice even though I am not particularly religious.

You may be interested to know that several other countries celebrate a holiday similar to America’s Thanksgiving.

Our friends in Canada, for example, have their Thanksgiving holiday in mid-October.

Other countries that celebrate a Thanksgiving include Grenada (which commemorates a U.S.-led invasion of the island in 1983 to quell political unrest), Liberia (a country founded by freed American slaves), Philippines (a former American colony), Norfolk Island, Australia (brought to them via American whaling ships), and the Netherlands (because many of the Pilgrims came from there).

Countries such as United Kingdom, Japan and Germany celebrate similar harvest-time holidays, though are not based on any American influence.

Thanksgiving lands on Thursday, November 28th this year.

I hope all of you expats, Americans and non-Americans alike, have booked your Thanksgiving dinners to partake in the festivities and give thanks for the wonderful lives we have.

Or if you haven’t, check out our top picks for restaurants serving Thanksgiving meals in Singapore.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

About Andrea McKenna Brankin

Andrea McKenna Brankin is a journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the HCSA Dayspring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.

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