Thanksgiving should be an international holiday

I have a lot of friends who are expatriates. They all go through this same cycle of Americanism. When they first move abroad, everything is so exciting, quaint and cultural. They embrace the differences between their new homeland and their American culture.

Until Thanksgiving comes.


They all go through that shock like someone just tore off their right arm. They know intellectually it is coming, that their new home does not celebrate the holiday and they will be expected to get up and go to work, go to school like it is any other day of the year but emotionally it is quite tragic.

I think it may be that Thanksgiving is the one holiday that defines America as a nation. Or maybe it is a natural breath we all draw as a nation where nobody has any expectations that you be “on call,” where emails can go unanswered and blogs go unwritten. Maybe it is because the holiday is the jumping off point for the winter holidays where we all collectively agree to give ourselves permission to loosen the tie a bit, relax and enjoy a bit of life we deny ourselves the rest of our “24/7-always-on” year.

Maybe it is the permission (or excuse) to relax a bit for the next month that Americans abroad miss most. Without Thanksgiving, when do the Holidays start? When is it ok to relax and breathe?

Maybe the rest of the world does not need a holiday like Thanksgiving. But on the off-chance it does, I say let’s make it an international holiday anyway. Whether to give thanks, eat without guilt or just to take a day and breathe, a universal holiday celebrated the world around can perhaps be the start in joining ourselves to each other.

It’s a thought.

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about “Thanksgiving’s coming, so what’s it to you?” To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.

10 Replies to “Thanksgiving should be an international holiday”

  1. Rufus, missed your post earlier… wondered where you were. and now find you are kicking up a global scandal. or rather, proposing an international day of gratitude. a lovely idea, imagine others would take it if we eliminate turkey and pilgrims hats.

  2. This idea came up a few years back when my son found himself on an extended stay working a pig farm in Denmark from June-January. He was quite disappointed at missing the holiday (though the Danes do make up for it with their Christmas and New Year’s celebrations!) We decided that the International Holiday would be known as Eating Day so that there would be none of the “American Imperialism” attached to the holiday. So, turkey, fatted calf, goat, whatever, as long as there was too much food, you were celebrating.

  3. international eating day? at least make it an International Feasting Day! uh… sounds a bit Dark Age-ish?? will there be large turkey leg bones strewn on the floor?? Renn Fest comes to mind. ok, international eating day it is.. I’m in. 😉

  4. I have to admit, I had never really given much credit to Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the extra days off back in grade school. Now that I’ve been in college a few years and have experienced the “DearGodTurkeyBreakCan’tComeFastEnough” I have to say my appreciation has increased exponentially. And I’m sure as life goes on, I will welcome the time off for reflection and tryptophan-induced haps even more so.

  5. Rufus, I have to agree whole-heartedly on the idea that Thanksgiving is the gateway to one month to exhale quietly and unwrap the burdens that lay draped around our shoulders for the other 11 months. Although, I’m sure many families/ folks would argue that the holidays only serve to exacerbate financial stress, family tensions or maybe even place greater pressure to meet year-end deadlines, to me, it’s a time to stop and smell the roses if you will. It’s a time to remember what’s really important about life.

  6. I don’t doubt that it is the start of a stress season for some. It used to for me as well until I figured out that people who lived to create stress will create it anywhere people are willing to tolerate it. I just decided to simply stop feeding that beast. Anyone who wanted to breathe with me stayed around; those who fed on stress left. And getting off the consumer train is the first stop. Amazing how much stress goes away when you tell yourself, “I already have more than I need.”

  7. I just can’t help myself, but I first have to say I love knowing you have a blackberry, Rufus. Et tu, canine swami? I have been thinking about living abroad lately so this is a great post for me to have read. I intellectualize that there are things I would miss but this really brings it home on a more visceral level. Enjoyed the post so much: loving all the different views of what could in some corners be a very staid subject!

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