Thanksgiving is a uniquely North American celebration. Canada has its Thanksgiving day celebration on the second Monday of October and the United States holds its on the fourth Thursday of November.
Well, those are the two biggies, anyway. Lesser observances are held in four other countries as well. In Leiden, the Netherlands, where many of the Pilgrims who settled the Plymouth Plantation lived before voyaging to the cold and stony shores of New England, a non-denominational service is held each year on the same day as the celebration in the States.
The 25th of October is called Thanksgiving Day on the island of Grenada but instead of being a harvest celebration it marks the U.S. led invasion of the island in 1983 that led to the deposition and execution of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.
Liberia celebrates Thanksgiving on the first Thursday of November and the Australian Territory of Norfolk Island follows the tradition introduced to them by American whalers and is held on the last Wednesday of November.
Today was the fourth Thanksgiving I’ve spent outside of the States. The first two were in France in ’89 and ’90. There was a fairly sizable group of American expats in Antibes, most of whom worked on various yachts. Chez Charlie’s Pub and Le Rouf Bar which I would categorize as expat bars because the common language in each was English despite the nationalities of the denizens of those establishments. Each put on a Thanksgiving spread for the Americans. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. While the courses resembled what we think of as the traditional repast in the States there was something that wasn’t “quite” right about it that went beyond the lack of cranberry sauce. Some “je ne sais quoi” that I can’t put my finger on, but we all appreciated the effort they displayed to try and give us a little piece of home away from home.
Thanksgiving of ’91 was spent at sea making the crossing on Jolie Aire from Europe to the States and, as far as I can remember, went unnoticed and uncelebrated.
Here in Panama there is a sizable gringo community from the States and Canada and the Canadians have to accommodate themselves to their brethren from the States. Several restaurants in Boquete, Volcan and David put on specials for the day. I chose to go to the Cuidad de David Hotel where I enjoyed a tasty buffet complete from soup to pumpkin pie, but once again devoid of cranberry sauce. The price was reasonable, the company was enjoyable and I got to watch the New England Patriots whip the Detroit Lions on a large-screen television.
So, just because I’m residing 8 degrees north of the Equator doesn’t mean I missed out on a turkey dinner today.