In light of recent world news, this Thanksgiving weekend could not come soon enough to give us all a reminder of everything we have to be thankful for. Bountiful food, a safe home, families who love us, and on and on. Something I’m particularly thankful for this year is our diverse population that makes us a rich, interesting, and varied culture. One that comes from all over the world. A population of people seeking a life of freedom and opportunity. Each one of us has a unique background of cultural history, no matter where our ancestors came from. My ancestry is made up of English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Russian, Scandinavian, and who knows what else, but America is all I’ve ever known. My family doesn’t have any deeply held Irish or Scottish traditions we practice, but our traditions are our own. Christina on the other hand, is an ocean away from her family in Germany, with German traditions she misses. It’s easy to forget how hard it must be to be so far away from family on special holidays, especially those that we don’t typically celebrate in the US, like Germany’s ErnteDankfest which is very similar to our Thanksgiving.
ErnteDankfest, held in late September or early October, celebrates thankfulness for the bounty of a harvest. It is celebrated with a big meal, parades, church services, lantern parade, crowning of a harvest queen, and even fireworks! They must not eat quite as much turkey as we do during our Thanksgiving if they have the energy to do all of those things after a big meal!
As I began thinking about Thanksgiving this year, I couldn’t help but think about how so many other people do not have all that we do; not in quantity of food, safety, or even freedom. We're very fortunate to have all that we do. Our country has a history of compassion to the immigrant and I’m thankful this is my home. We're a nation of immigrants who risked so much for a better life. That's what makes us so great.
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
-Emma Lazarus, "The New Colossus", Poem at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty
Being an American doesn’t mean you look a certain way, sound a certain way, worship a certain way, or eat certain foods. Being an American means that you can look, sound, worship, and eat whatever you want. I’m thankful for that, too. So, to our friends who are Americans by transplant, we’re happy you’re here!
While Thanksgiving is an American holiday with the traditional turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole (all of which I LOVE), we want to make Thanksgiving feel like home for those Americans who grew up abroad and those whose families are still overseas. What better way to add to the traditions of Thanksgiving than to bring in some dishes and new traditions that represent your family heritage? Have someone in your family from a different country? Invite them to bring some of their traditions to be a part of your family’s Thanksgiving celebration this year.
Many cultures celebrate a harvest festival of some kind, each with their own meaning and cultural relevance. Most of these celebrations have similar ingredients in the food since harvest happens in the fall.
Here are some delicious German dishes, in honor of Christina’s homeland and heritage, that would add a beautiful flavor and new twist on the classic American Thanksgiving meal but still maintain the flavors of the season that you’d expect from a Thanksgiving dinner.
Cremige Kürbissuppe mit Äpfeln, Karotten und Kartoffeln
(Creamy Pumkin Soup with Apples, Carrots, and Potatoes)
- 1 kg Pumpkin (Hokkaido), possibly more
- 2 Med-large onions
- 4 Large carrots
- 2 Med-large apples
- 2 tbsp oil
- 4 Med-large potatoes
- 1.5 Liters vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 Cup cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp paprika
- Parsley, chopped
Cut the pumpkins in half, remove the soft interior, along with the seeds and cut the flesh into pieces. Peel the onions and cut into eight pieces. Peel and cut the carrots into pieces. Remove seeds from apples and cut into wedges. Peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces also. Add pumpkin, onion, apple and carrot pieces to a large saucepan with a little hot oil. While stirring, over medium heat, fry until the pumpkin is soft, but still al dente. Add the potato pieces and fill with hot vegetable or chicken stock. Cook on low heat cook until everything is tender. This takes about 20 minutes. Stir in the cream and use an immersion blender to smooth it out. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and parsley.
- 2 medium size apples
- 2tbs cranberries
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp. Honey
- 30 g of butter
- 1 tbsp. flour
- 3 tbsp. oatmeal
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- pinch od salt
- 2 tbsp. cinnamon
Peel apples and cut them in thin slices. Mix apples with lemon juice and cranberries and put it in a small oven dish. Cut the butter in small pieces and mix it with flour, oatmeal, sugar, salt and cinnamon and make a crumbly dough. Sprinkle on top of apples.
Bake in a 285 degree oven for about 30 min. Makes 2 servings.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Glücklicher erntedank, alle! Wir sind dankbar für Sie!