Passing the plate: Students of different cultures celebrate thanksgiving

December 15, 2018

Mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls and freshly baked pumpkin pie. That’s the traditional Thanksgiving meal, but there are individuals in the school who don’t think of turkey and green bean casserole when Thanksgiving comes to mind. These people and their families share unique traditions that often go unnoticed. 




The Rai family is one of many that celebrate Thanksgiving in a non-traditional fashion. Having celebrated Thanksgiving with New Delhi cuisine all her life, this non-traditional Thanksgiving meal is the norm for senior Simran Rai.


“For Thanksgiving, my family eats a variety of ethnic foods made of rice, vegetables, spices and curry,” Rai said.


Many may wonder: “Doesn’t she miss the amazing smell of apple pie?” Rai makes it clear that that is not an issue to her. 


“I enjoy eating my own culture’s food,” Rai said.


While the food they eat is different, the day consists of the same sentimental value any tradition brings to a family. 


“In the evening, we gather at a family friend’s house for dinner, which is typically eaten somewhat late at around 8 p.m. The men and children normally wear regular American clothes, but the women typically wear traditional Indian clothes,” Rai said.




Like much of the school, junior Joseangel Fernandez, has heritage from multiple locations around the world. “My mom is from Medellin, Colombia, and my dad is from San Jose, Costa Rica,” Fernandez said. 


While Rai celebrates Thanksgiving with her traditional Indian cuisine, Fernandez doesn’t eat his culture's traditional meal. “We tend to eat at a friend’s house, and we eat the traditional Thanksgiving meal,” Fernandez said.


While Fernandez and his family don’t eat traditional Colombian food on Thanksgiving they like to enjoy a traditional dish on other special occasions. “On special occasions we eat the traditional meal, Bandeja Paisa, from Medellin, Colombia where my mom is from,” Fernandez said.


Like Rai, Fernandez would rather eat his culture's traditional cuisine on Thanksgiving. “Bandeja Paisa would definitely be my prefered Thanksgiving meal,” Fernandez said.


Unfortunately eating traditional Medellin cuisine is out of reach because the meal is very big. “We would eat Bandeja Paisa on Thanksgiving but the meal is extremely large and takes a lot of effort to make so it is eaten very rarely,” Fernandez said. 




Junior Carol Azer finds herself looking forward to Thanksgiving all year. In fact, Azer only has one criterion for her Thanksgiving meal. “I really don’t care what culture the food is from as long as I get to eat something good,” Azer said.


Although Azer doesn’t care where the food comes from, her parents prefer Egyptian cuisine and continue to make the traditional food they grew up eating. “My parents both grew up in Egypt, so most of the food we eat for everyday dinners is traditional Egyptian cuisine. So every year when Thanksgiving comes around, that's just what makes the most sense to eat,” Azer said.


Other than the ethnic food, the Azer family's Thanksgiving traditions are very similar to the most practiced. “We always eat a lot more food than normal and eat earlier than usual, around 4 p.m.,” Azer said. 


Whether the food one eats originates from Asia, Africa or North America, Thanksgiving is about spending time with family, being thankful and of course stuffing oneself with great food. “A tradition we have is to say what we’re thankful for. My usual response is the food,” Azer said.


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