Thanksgiving in Canada is the first Monday in October, and one of my favourite holidays. I love being with my family and eating a wonderful meal, so when I decided to study abroad I knew I would be sad to miss it. On top of that, Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the UK, which I wasn’t expecting! Some other Canadian friends and I decided to throw our own Thanksgiving meal, since we couldn’t be with our own families at home. It was a wonderful experience, with a few hiccups along the way. Read on to find out more about celebrating holidays from home in the UK!
Group Photo, Courtesy of Elisa Mutschlechner
Planning the Meal
We had a group of eight people to celebrate with; half of us were Canadian, and the other half either had connections to Canada or simply wanted to experience one of our holidays. We wanted to make sure that we had all of our favourite dishes. This included: turkey (of course), mashed potatoes, butternut squash soup, cranberries, cheesy potato casserole, and stuffing. We even included vegetarian options for some of our friends! For dessert, we made brownies, apple crisp, and pumpkin pie!
Because the UK does not celebrate Thanksgiving, we had a few challenges while preparing our meal. First of all, Monday was not a holiday here, so we had to attend class and squeeze our dinner preparations in around it. Second of all, the foods we wanted were not all available. If you decide to do something like this while studying in the UK, I would suggest planning a few weeks in advance! Here in Edinburgh, turkeys aren’t on sale in grocery stores until close to Christmas time, because they do not have an earlier holiday that requires one. Because of that, we had to order our turkey online from a butcher, and we got two small roasts, instead of a small bird. This was fine, and the turkey was delicious! Second, pumpkin pie is not something that is eaten in the UK. Finding the ingredients in local grocery stores was almost impossible, and because the pie was my responsibility, I had a difficult time preparing it! In the end, I ordered the pumpkin puree (the only ingredient I couldn’t find) online. In the London, there is an American Food Store that ships to all of the UK, and they had exactly what I needed! This store will be linked down below, and is also useful if you’re craving any foods from home that you can’t find here!
We held our Thanksgiving on the Monday. I had baked my pie the day before in preparation, and I arrived at my friend’s flat early to help with preparations. We set out some cheese, crackers and meats for an appetizer, and opened a bottle of wine. Next, we had the main course, starting with some soup! Following that, we had the turkey and all of our other main dishes. We overate, so we decided to take a break before dessert. We played some games and chatted until we felt able to eat again. Dessert is always my favourite part of a meal, and it did not disappoint! Though I missed being at home with my family this year, I absolutely loved the make-shift Thanksgiving that my friends and I threw together!
These can be applied to any holiday you’re missing at home while studying in the UK, not just Thanksgiving!
-If you are missing your family on a holiday, video chat with them while they celebrate! This allows you to be a part of the festivities, even though you are far away.
-If you’re planning a meal with North American foods (like pumpkin pie) or celebrating a holiday that is not celebrated in the UK (like Thanksgiving), plan early! You may need to order some things online.
-Make friends with other people studying abroad, so you have people to spend time with when you’re missing home on these holidays!
All Photos Credits belong to Lauren Cameron, unless specified otherwise.