Thanksgiving dinner celebrations are at the core of U.S. history. As a secular holiday, it allows people from all backgrounds to get together and say thanks over a communal meal. Recent immigrants often reinterpret the meal by mixing the traditional aspects of the holiday with their own cultural touches. Here’s a roundup of immigrants celebrating Thanksgiving across the United States.
From the Congo to Albany, New York
Rukundo Nsanzurwanda, a 19-year-old high school student from the Congo, celebrated his first Thanksgiving with classmates in the school’s cafeteria.
“We do this in my country,” he told the Times Union. “All people come together and then we eat food, we drink juice and it’s good, because my parents and the other parents who sit together, we talk about school, about home, about life — just like this.”
From Syria to St. Louis
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay welcomed new immigrants to his town and the Thanksgiving tradition at International Institute. A number of guests were Syrian refugees, and while eating turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes, they joined the major in singing “This Land is Your Land.”
From Laos to Junction, Wisconsin
Egg roll filling used as stuffing and turkeys seasoned with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves is how Diane Yang celebrates Thanksgiving. According to the New York Times, her family came to the United States 30 years ago as Hmong refugees from Laos. They’ve settled well into their new home and their new holiday tradition.
From Cuba to Miami
Margarita Velasco came to the United States in the 1960s. Her Cuban heritage colors her family’s Thanksgiving, as they enjoy wild rice, cranberry sauce, turkey and a pumpkin flan.
“We always thought if you’re here, get used to it, don’t try to change the things,” she told the New York Times. “So we make a big deal of the American Thanksgiving.”
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