How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Abroad

November 18, 2015 / by Lindsay Mullen

thanksgiving-694170_1920For many Americans, Thanksgiving means cozying up with family and feasting on turkey and pumpkin pie. But for many assignees, this Thanksgiving is the first they have spent away from their family traditions and home-cooked meals. The good news is that just because your assignees aren’t stateside doesn’t mean they can’t have the Turkey Day they crave.  

Here are three ways your assignees can celebrate Thanksgiving abroad and experience a little foreign culture along the way.

The U.S. Consulate and American-style restaurants

Does your assignee relish in the combined extravagance and simplicity of carefully sifting through the dark meat and selecting their perfect chunk of turkey? The U.S. consulate may be a good bet. While many European cities offer a greater selection of “traditional” Thanksgiving food, it may be impossible for an assignee elsewhere in the world to snatch up a can of pumpkin pie filling and a gravy boat. For this reason, many cities with a U.S. Consulate offer Thanksgiving events and meals for expats to have as close of a traditional Thanksgiving as possible. Many consulates will even offer games and music to make expats feel more at home.

American-style restaurants are also a haven for expats looking for their turkey fix this Thanksgiving. Similar to consulates, many restaurants offer buffet-style Thanksgiving feasts (perhaps without the pomp and circumstance of a consulate). For a quieter night out with Thanksgiving traditions, research your local American restaurants to figure out which are offering a Thanksgiving menu this year.

Throw a Potluck

Chances are, your assignee isn’t the only one trying to smuggle a Honeysuckle turkey through U.S. customs. Many assignees in the area are also missing their Thanksgiving traditions, and a great way to remedy this is to throw a communal potluck by combining local foods with Thanksgiving favorites. An assignee in Cambodia can consider adding bai sach chrouk and lap khmer to traditional baked turkey and cranberry sauce—it will definitely make it a Thanksgiving to remember. Another benefit of throwing a potluck is the opportunity to invite some locals and share American traditions with them, as well as learn how they give thanks in their country.

Local Holidays

If your assignees are based in China or Korea, they may have already had a little taste of Thanksgiving in September. Local holidays are a great way to encourage assignees to get involved with culture and make expats feel welcome. China’s Mid-Autumn Moon Festival signifies the end of the harvest season and is marked with a great feast to be shared among family friends on the day of the year when the moon shines the brightest. Korea’s Chuseok is a three-day holiday that serves as a similar “Korean Thanksgiving.” Chuseok is a major holiday in Korea and many Koreans visit their ancestors to pay respects as a celebration of the end of the harvest season. For more information on these holidays, check out our blog on celebrating Autumn abroad.

Thanksgiving is a time for family, so take a moment to check in with your employees’ loved ones who went abroad as well. Family happiness and adaptability to culture shock is crucial to the success of an assignment! For more on making relocation a family matter, check out our whitepaper.

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Topics: Corporate

Lindsay Mullen

Written by Lindsay Mullen

Lindsay Mullen is CEO of Prosper Strategies, working behind the scenes to support the Mango team's world of lovable language learning. A language aficionado herself, Lindsay oversees a team of marketers fluent in public relations, content development and strategy (and they speak some German, French, Spanish and Chinese as well.)

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