Since arriving in D.C. from Belgium, there have been a lot of "firsts." The first time I shared my bedroom with a roommate, building my first gingerbread house and this past weekend: my first Thanksgiving.
For you international students out there who don’t know what Thanksgiving is, here is a brief explanation. Without exception, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a national holiday, which means that most offices, schools and internship sites close shop that day. Many don’t bother opening back up on Friday, so that means an extra-long weekend of happiness and celebrations.
The holiday’s history can be traced back to 1621 when pilgrims and Native Americans came together in a three-day celebration following a successful harvest. Although the original meaning of the celebration has changed over the years, Thanksgiving Day is still a time for people to come together and share a meal, which is exactly what I did this weekend.
Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with your family, but since many of us TWC students are currently far away from home, we opted for organizing a Friendsgiving. Instead of going out to eat, we decided that it would be a lot more fun to cook dinner ourselves. The other Belgians and I had absolutely no idea what traditional Thanksgiving dishes to make, but luckily my very American roommate Betsy knew exactly what to cook.
Besides cooking a massive 19-pound turkey (imagine this: 8 people have been eating turkey for 3 days now, and there is still turkey left), we also made mashed potatoes, vegetable casseroles, stuffing, gravy and (last but not least) cranberry sauce. The turkey had to cook for 5 hours, so we had a lot of time to prepare the rest of the food and get our Thanksgiving spirit on.
Thanksgiving Day is still a time for people to come together and share a meal. I had an amazing time surrounded by my new friends, who I am extremely grateful for.Hélène Lerno
Other than eating and drinking more than it is good for you, there are some other activities that Thanksgiving Day traditionally includes. Every year, the Macy's department store organizes the "Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade" in New York City. More than 40 million American families watch the three-hour parade on television and this year I was part of the audience (at home, on my couch, in my pajamas). This world-famous parade features giant helium balloons, beautiful floats, musical artists, marching bands and most importantly, Santa Claus.
The arrival of Mr. Claus officially kicks off the holiday season in the United States which, if you ask me, is the most wonderful time of the year. After watching the parade, many American families tune in to American football games. Although I had absolutely no idea what was going on, I enjoyed watching the game but I especially loved the fact that my roommate was yelling at the television the whole time.
In summary, my first real American Thanksgiving was a huge success. We are still reaping the benefits of our cooking after three days and I had an amazing time surrounded by my new friends, who I am extremely grateful for.