The most important holiday in the United States may not be Christmas, but Thanksgiving. This important celebration’s origin is the supposed union of the two cultures that make up the United States: Native Americans and English migrants.
Sometimes, this is called a myth because it is not known what the first Thanksgiving was or even if there was actually one. Pictures like these…
…are classified by historians as apocryphal, something that has very little in common with the actual past.
Thanksgiving is a common tradition in North American society; (Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving, but in October. It is not a modern invention, but one cannot also say that one singular event was the first Thanksgiving.
Abraham Lincoln was the first president who made a nationwide Thanksgiving Day official, while Franklin Roosevelt declared the penultimate Thursday of every November as Thanksgiving Day, which caused controversy as some states were celebrating this holiday on the last Thursday of each November.
In 1942, the law was modified and the fourth Thursday of each November was established as the famous Turkey Day, regardless of whether it was the last Thursday or not, as November sometimes has 5 Thursdays.
Since that year, modern Thanksgiving began to take shape and become what it is today. A day to eat dinner and thank whoever you want for whatever you want, which usually means being grateful for the nice things that have happened in the year, for family or friends, etc. Although the celebration began to specifically thank God and Christianity, this holiday is now considered a national secular celebration which can be enjoyed by any religion or culture in the United States.
At the border, these features of Thanksgiving have some interesting consequences.
Although it is strictly an American celebration, as it is not tied to any specific religion or historical event that crosses over borders (in contrast with Christmas and Halloween), the tradition itself is pretty much just a dinner and being grateful for your family and friends. As such, it is easy to replicate, not to mention that everyone likes turkey and mashed potatoes, and another excuse to eat. It is not necessary to be in favor of a religion or country to celebrate it. So…
Why not celebrate Thanksgiving in Mexico?
Of course, regardless of who can celebrate it or their nationality, the reality is that this is a family event, and as everyone living in this region knows, a huge number of Mexicans have ties to the United States, which is why it is so common to see this celebration acquire some Latino traits little by little.
A high number of people cross the border to meet up with their American families and eat turkey, but, increasingly, we have seen how this tradition is celebrated with or without an American citizen at dinner.
Personally, I know of a family in Tijuana that invites dozens of people each year to dinner, but only one of them is from the United States.
The same thing happens from north to south, from south to north, an infusion of traditions and customs with others.
National Public Radio (NPR) and its program Latino USA with María Hinojosa, published a series of tweets where their Hispanic readers shared the Latino (most of them Mexican) traditions that they have added to this American celebration and its dinner:
Among the stories shared, there is Grace Garner, who has Mexican ancestry, who shared the following: “All dinners on holidays are Mexican food, but for Thanksgiving, there is only American food. I asked my mother about this and she said that 'There is no Thanksgiving in Mexico. When we came to the United States, we learned about it and we made the food they told us to make for Thanksgiving'".
This is something that can be seen quite frequently on both sides of the border. Though there are dinners where one can find mole, tamales, or adobado loin at Thanksgiving, the reality is that turkey is essential for many in order to celebrate this holiday.
Can it really be a Turkey Day without any turkey?
We would love it if you shared your experiences with us regarding this Thanksgiving celebration, to see how Latinos and Mexicans at the border have included this holiday in our lives.
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