Thanksgiving is just around the corner (at least, if you are American… Canadian Thanksgivng was a bit earlier, on 14 October of this year) and as it kicks off the holiday season, Thanksgiving can also be a reminder for American and Canadian expats that they are far from home. As families at home travel to gather around the dinner table and celebrate all that they are thankful for, it’s easy to get homesick and feel you are missing out on your family’s traditions. Read below for some remedies to the blues and learn how to celebrate your own Thanksgiving in Prague.
Even though here in Prague, it’s a regularly scheduled workday, it’s important to take time out of your Thanksgiving day to call your loved ones back home. I make it a point to use these holidays to call my grandparents because they don’t have access to internet calling (and insane costs of international calling on a landline make regular phone calls with them impossible). When they visit more tech-savvy relatives, it gives us the opportunity to see each other (and its endearing to see them react to the magic of video calls!) Calls to distant relatives are also easier on holidays, since they will all, for the most part, be in one place.
Video calling has become a staple of living apart and makes the distance seem much smaller. I remember the days of having relatives overseas before video calling, and the phone calls and letter can only do so much, but the addition of video adds a level of personalization that is unmatched. I have fond memories of being on a video call with my relatives and being passed around the Thanksgiving table so everyone could say hello and help me feel included from abroad. They even propped up the phone on the table so I could be included in the conversation (with the added bonus of a super-convenient option to “leave” the table any time I felt like, all I had to do was hang up!)
Celebrating Thanksgiving in Prague
This year, American Thanksgiving will be on Thursday, 28 November, and while a homemade meal is undoubtedly the best, a few restaurants host traditional Thanksgiving meals. Sometimes, the American chain restaurants like T.G.I. Fridays and Hard Rock Cafe also host a Thanksgiving meal. It’s a popular feast and the restaurants run out of seating fast, so a reservation is usually recommended.
No matter if it’s your first or fifteenth year abroad, it’s never too late to switch things up and get a new tradition started. Maybe create a “friends-giving feast” with your pals and have guests bring dishes from their home country. This is a great opportunity to introduce your non-American friends to your favorite holiday dishes and learn what they put on their table during the holidays. Celebrate what each of you are thankful for from the past year and what you look forward to in the coming year.
For the last couple of years, my friends and I have opted to eat our meals out, for both convenience’s sake and also how expensive and time-consuming hard-to-find Thanksgiving staples can be (when is the last time you saw canned cranberry at the store?) Jama Steakhouse (Ostrovní 26 at Národní třída) and Chickin (Dejvická 6 at Hradčanská) both serve all our favorite traditional side dishes as part of their Thanksgiving dinner. Reservations are required, as the demand is high at both restaurants, so keep track of them on social media to see when holiday reservations open.
Go Pumpkin Picking
Feeling spooky? Halloween and the tradition of jack-o-lantern carvings are gaining popularity to Europe. I’ve been recommended Dýňová Farma Bykoš, which a group of friends makes the tradition of going every year for a day trip. It is located a little ways outside of Prague in Středočeský Kraj and is best accessible by car. It is a cute, family-run farm with plenty of seasonal activities available to get you in the spirit of autumn.
The holiday season tends to amplify just how far you are from home, but while living overseas, make the most of your Thanksgiving with a mix of old traditions and new memories. No one can tell you the proper way to celebrate, but as long as you take a moment to appreciate what you’re thankful for, you are doing it right.