Does Colombia Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Does Colombia Celebrate Thanksgiving?

TLDR? Although Colombia doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, you can still enjoy the American tradition with a celebration at a local restaurant.

There are events and traditions that are celebrated around the world, such as Christmas and the New Year.

However, many countries have their own festivities that you can’t find in another destination. For Americans, a major one of those holidays is Thanksgiving. 

So, does Colombia celebrate Thanksgiving or will you miss out on Turkey day this year? Let’s break down the answer to this question.

What Is Thanksgiving Day?

pumpkin pie with the words happy thanksgiving

Although my fellow Americans already know what Thanksgiving is all about, let me give you a quick rundown of it for those who aren’t on the same boat. 

Thanksgiving is quite an important day for North Americans. It’s celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year in the United States and the second Monday of October in Canada

The holiday celebrates the first harvest in the new world, and how the original settlers gave thanks for the food that would help get them through the winter. 

This celebration is a space of gratitude and is shared with the families or the communities for some special reason, generally for the harvest and for the year that is ending.

Because of this, most meals involve turkey, pumpkin pie, beans, and other items made from foods you would have got from the harvest. 

Thanksgiving in North America is also what kicks off the Christmas season. The day after Thanksgiving is the renowned Black Friday is celebrated, which involves shopping and tons of discounts.

The History of Thanksgiving Day

Americans and Native Americans sharing food

Thanksgiving actually has a pretty rich history. And, there’s still some debate as to the origins of the holiday. 

However, the most popular theory states that the holiday dates back to 1621, when the native Indians of the Wampanoag tribe in Plymouth, Massachusetts, helped the English settlers who came to the American continent on the Mayflower ship, to harvest, hunt, and fish during a difficult winter season. 

As a token of his appreciation, the governor of the settlers invited the natives to celebrate and to give thanks with a meal as a token of appreciation. The festivities actually lasted three whole days! 

At the festivities, settlers ate the food they had gathered with the help of the natives. Many of those foods, such as wild game and pumpkins are still eaten today. 

Interestingly enough, this tradition didn’t become a real habit until the late 1660s when it began to spread throughout the North American territory.

In 1789 Governor George Washington proposed celebrating a specific day of the year to give thanks and celebrate this event. On November 26 of that year, Congress approved the resolution, and this wound up being the first official Thanksgiving Day.

Later, under the mandate of President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, Thanksgiving Day was declared an annual national holiday and set the last Thursday of November as the date of celebration.

Is Thanksgiving Celebrated in Colombia?

forbidden turkey

The short answer is no, in Colombia, Thanksgiving is not celebrated.

The historical context of Thanksgiving Day means that it’s a purely North American celebration and that it didn’t spread to Latin American countries. That’s mostly because settlers in Colombia didn’t have to deal with harsh winters (the weather here is spring all the time!).

However, traditions attached to this date, like Black Friday are celebrated in Colombia since it’s a more commercial event that many companies have adopted as a sales and marketing strategy.

So, while you won’t find people carving turkeys in Colombia, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate. You can always cook your own feast at your Airbnb.

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Colombia

turkey in the pan

Now that you know there’s no Thanksgiving in Colombia, how are you going to celebrate?

As it happens, there are actually a couple of ways to do so. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to celebrate this American holiday in Colombia.

Cook Your Own Feast

In Colombia, Thanksgiving is a normal work day. 

However, you can still cook up a dinner for your friends and family. 

Better yet, because Colombia is so biodiverse, it’s easy to find most ingredients you’lll need. You may have to make a couple of substitutions, but the many fruits and veggies in the country should have you covered. 

You can also find whole turkeys with or without innards in stores like Jumb. They’re a bit on the pricey side, but they’re massive and can definitely serve the whole family!

I also recommend throwing in some local dishes from Medellin. It’s a nice way to blend two cultures, and to create new traditions while celebrating the old. 

Eat Dinner Out

If you don’t feel like cooking, you can also go out to eat. 

In many cities around Colombia you can find American-style restaurants for eating dishes from back home in. 

Alternatively, you can treat yourself to some of the fine dining options around the city. My personal recommendation would be to book the XO Experience at Carmen

The food is incredible, and it’s a multi-course experience that will have you really feeling in a celebratory mood. 

Pro tip: Abbiocco at The Marquee is also hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. The menu includes a welcome drink and dessert, and rumor has it the food is to die for!

Watch the Virtual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Macy’s department store chain holds a parade in Manhattan, New York, for about three hours, starting at nine in the morning.

In this event, millions of people move to Broadway Avenue to see giant balloons with different figures and performances by great guest artists. You can catch live bands, dancers, and tons of other cool performers at this event. 

The great news is that you can watch it live-streamed from your TV. Peacock, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime all have the parade available. 

Go Shopping

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and it’s an event that has spread throughout the world and in which many countries currently participate.

In fact, in Medellin you can find plenty of “Black Friday sales” hosted at local shopping malls and other outlets. 

What you won’t find are the long lines waiting outside the stors at ungodly hours. Personally, that’s something I don’t miss!

American Football Games

Watching American football games is another Thanksgiving tradition that we can’t forget. Last year, in an effort to catch the game during the Super Bowl, I made it my mission to figure out where and how to watch it. 

There are plenty of bars around the city where you can watch a sports game. Many of the American joints show football in particular. 

Alternatively, you can sign up for a $1 subscription on ESPN+ or on the NFL site itself. I went this route, as I just wanted to cozy up at home. 

Watch the Pardon to the Turkey

United States presidents usually have this tradition on every Thanksgiving Thursday. It was started by former President George Bush in 1989.

In this tradition, two live turkeys get sent to the White House. They’re both given names, and on Thanksgiving Eve, the president pardons one of the turkeys, sparing him from becoming Thanksgiving roast!

Although only one turkey gets pardoned, both actually get to live out their days on a farm where they’re well-cared for. You can watch this live on YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Peacock. 

Visit a Church

Colombia is a city full of Christian, Catholic, and churches from other religions.

If you’d like to, you can attend mass on Thanksgiving Day. In Colombia, churches usually have masses on weekdays at noon and at 6, 6:30, or 7 at night. 

Some of the most visited churches in Colombia are:

  • San Pedro Claver in Cartagena
  • El Señor de los Milagros in Buga, Valle del Cauca
  • Catedral Primada, Bogotá
  • Las Lajas Sanctuary in Pasto
  • Metropolitan Church in Medellin

There are also plenty located around Medellin for you to check out, so you’ll have no problem finding a place to enjoy some peace and quiet. 

Spend Thanksgiving Day in Colombia

Although Colombians don’t celebrate turkey, it’s still possible to celebrate Thanksgiving in this country in many ways!

The choice is yours: do you cook dinner to your liking, go out somewhere that offers Thanksgiving dinner, or do you just enjoy the shopping?

Either way, let’s make this Thanksgiving a good one. 

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