Although assimilation in the cultural mainstream is one of the least of the problems of many Filipinos who have considered U.S their home, observance of Thanksgiving Day, which this year falls on a Thursday of November 26, is one that will be marked with a deep touch of their native land.
Known for their months-long preparations to celebrate the Holiday Season in the Philippines, Filipinos in the U.S. adopt the ingrained tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving Day with indulgence in style and substance especially in terms of satisfying their palates.
And off course, as is the custom, Thanksgiving Day which signals the merry-making season in this part of the globe is celebrated not only with immediate members of the family but with their extended kindred as well.
Filipinos in the U.S. celebrate the age-old tradition in their own special way as the “Araw ng Pasasalamat” amidst blessing in this literal land of the plenty. This day also kicks off the elaborate preparations for the onset of the holiday season which gives them the excuse to splurge for themselves and their friends.
Filipinos have slowly assimilated into the American observance of Thanksgiving and injecting the event with Filipino colors in the process and synthesizing the beauty and depth of the tradition.
Thanksgiving has been a yearly celebrated federal holiday since 1863 with President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation the day during the Civil War as a “National Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our Beneficent Father who dwelleth in Heaven”.
Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year with Christmas and New Year,
The Americans trace the origin of the Thanksgiving holiday in 1621 to a harvest celebration at a plantation in Plymouth (now known as southeaster Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the home of Wampanoag natives), Autumn or early winter feasts continued in later years as an impromptu religious observance, and later on as a civil tradition.
The celebration lasted for three days for the Pilgrims where about 50 of the 100 who landed aboard the Mayflower ship and close to a hundred Native Americans attended the event that would be the forerunner of a great American tradition.
Thanksgiving is a time when differences are set aside and one that is characterized by thankfulness, unity and harmony with loved ones and friends and enjoy the American tradition of watching football and the Annual New York Macy’s Parade.
Back home, the same spirit is being observed with the advent of Christmas when families join together for a late midnight feasting fondly called Noche Buena where tables are filled with different culinary delights.
While it is customary in the U.S. to feast Thanksgiving favorites consisting of the conventional roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, pumpkin or pecan pie, and drinks like eggnog or apple cider; many Filipino homes would add to the table Filipino specialties like lechon manok, chicken relleno
crispy pata, pancit bihon, hamon, kaldereta, lumpia, and kare-kare.
The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday, not because people “block out” from over-eating, but rather it is the time when Filipino shoppers join their local counter parts to scamper to department stores and other venues satiate their shopping desires with bargains all around. It the opportune when businesses hope to see black in their accounts signifying a good cycle.