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Thanksgiving in Greece: what to do

    What is Thanksgiving and why do people celebrate it?

    Thanksgiving is known to Greeks mostly from movies. However, it is an established holiday throughout North America, and there are other countries and cultures with similar celebrations. It is a celebration of Thanksgiving, when people give thanks to the Creator for their harvest.

    Where was Thanksgiving first celebrated?

    El Paso, Texas, is the city that claims to be the first place where this day was celebrated in the United States. In 1598, on April 30, the Spaniard Don Juan de Honiate and his exploring party held a Thanksgiving feast to rest his men.

    In the New World, it is most associated with the European settlers who felt the need to thank the Pilgrims for their safe arrival and stay in their new home. Specifically, in 1621, the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies.

    Where was Thanksgiving first celebrated?

    In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November (between the 22nd and 28th) and has no particular connection to any religion.

    The holiday is also called Turkey Day because it marks the beginning of the holiday season for Americans until New Year’s Day. The “custom” also calls for all families to eat together on this day, with roast turkey as the main dish.

    In what other parts of the world is Thanksgiving celebrated?

    Thanksgiving is also celebrated in other countries around the world. 

    • In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated every year on the second Monday of October and is a national holiday in all provinces of the country. However, it is not celebrated in New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
    • In the Australian territories of the Norfolk Islands, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the last Wednesday in November. The feast arrived there via American ships.
    • In the West African country of Liberia, a similar festival was established in 1820. The festival was started by black former slaves who were now free, returned to Africa and brought the American custom with them.
    • In Germany, a festival associated with the annual harvest is held in early October. The Bavarian beer festival known as Oktoberfest is generally considered a similar holiday.

    When is Thanksgiving 2021 celebrated?

    Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November, which falls on November 25 in 2021.

    Do the Greeks celebrate Thanksgiving?

    In Greece people don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but in ancient Greece they celebrated “Thesmoforia”. The myth says that when Hades, the god of the underworld, kidnapped the young girl Persephone, her mother Demeter could not feed the world and winter came over the land. Demeter was the goddess of harvest and agriculture. Persephone returned to the world every six months, in spring and summer. When Persephone returned, Demeter gave mankind the gift of agriculture.

    The holiday dedicated to Demeter was called “Thesmophoria.” The ancient Greeks celebrated Thesmophoria between the end of October and November. The festivities lasted three days and were celebrated throughout ancient Greece. Only women were allowed to participate in the sacred celebrations.

    Where can I have a Traditional American Thanksgiving dinner in Athens?

    • St George Lycabettus Hotel: Enjoy the spectacular view of the Acropolis whilst enjoying a Traditional All American Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday 25th November, 2021.

    • GB Roof Garden Restaurant: On November 25th, enjoy a feast and an exquisite festive menu at the GB Roof Garden Restaurant. Lunch: 13:00 – 18:00, Dinner: 18:00 – 01:00. You can also celebrate Thanksgiving at the comfort of your own home and enjoy a festive menu. To place your order please call at 210 33 30 748 by Wednesday, November 24th at 12:00.

    • Hard Rock Café: Feast your eyes on their Thanksgiving Dinner because it’s almost Turkey Time. Reserve a table for Thursday, November 25 – Sunday, November 28.

    Where can I have a Traditional American Thanksgiving dinner in Thessaloniki?

    • Ambrosia Restaurant in Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki: Get into the festive mood and begin the holiday season with Thanksgiving dinner at Ambrosia restaurant on 25 November 2021. Enjoy a festive meal with live music with your family.

    • The Dubliner Irish Pub: American’s in Thessaloniki… Looking for somewhere to celebrate Thanksgiving this year? Why not go US, Irish and Greek and celebrate at The Dubliner. Traditional Thanksgiving Meal, Live Music and Irish Craic! Thursday, November 25, 2021 at 8:00 pm to 11:59 pm. 

    • Makedonia Palace: Enjoy an amazing dinner with your family at Macedonia Palace, the gem of Thermaikos gulf. The price is 40€ per person.

    How easy is to make your own Thanksgiving dinner in Greece?

    In Greece, it’s common to cook a Thanksgiving meal from scratch yourself, since almost everything can be found in supermarkets or delis and there’s no need to import anything.

    Where can I find fresh Turkeys in Greece?

    One of the most respected brands of festive produce is American Farm School turkeys because they are organically raised and sold only fresh. 

    The turkeys were introduced to the Greek market by the school in the 1960s and are also available during Thanksgiving week in November and 2 weeks before Christmas. There is a store on campus in Thessaloniki and usually turkeys are sold during the week of American Thanksgiving and two weeks before Christmas at selected locations close to Thessaloniki (AB Vasilopoulos, Butcher). 

    I am looking for ideas for a Greek Thanksgiving dinner. Where can I go for inspiration?

    We love the Greek celebrity chef, Akis Petretzikis. See below some of our favorite recipes where typical Thansgiving ingredients are used.

    Brined roast turkey: This recipe is one of the fastest ways to prepare a turkey. Plus, you get crispy skin and a perfectly cooked, juicy breast. Serve with a spicy bread stuffing, a creamy bread sauce, and a fantastic homemade cranberry sauce!

    Sweet Pumpking Pie: Because a pie should never be missing from the table, this sweet pumpkin pie with phyllo is incredible. It’s super healthy with a slightly sweet taste and perfect for your festive dinner with your family.

    Cranberry Based recipes: Cranberries are one of the most festive ingredients to grace your table… and your palate. Try any of the recipes for a dessert or salad.

    Gravy Sauce: Thanksgiving dinner always needs gravy to dress up your amazing kid-friendly creations.

    Mashed Potatoes: In Greece, we love mashed potatoes! This is the perfect side dish that all kids love with turkey and you can make it in no time.

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