How to Explain American Thanksgiving Dinner to Chinese Family and Friends | Speaking of China

18 Responses

  1. Constance - Foreign Sanctuary
    Constance - Foreign Sanctuary November 24, 2014 at 8:15 am | | Reply

    I just love John’s expression in the first picture – he looks ready to get the feast started!

    As for me, I usually just invite my in-laws over for turkey dinner. Since my husband and I moved into our house (and I got a full size oven), I usually host a huge Christmas feast and my in-laws first enjoyed turkey with all the trimmings for the first time during Christmas. I remember my brother-in-law posting several pictures on facebook of the turkey as it was the first time he had ever saw the entire preparation process (with an oven) in his life.

  2. Holly Hollins
    Holly Hollins November 24, 2014 at 8:23 am | | Reply

    2 years ago I invited a Chinese friend whom was at my university for the semester to spend Thanksgiving with us. He was reminded of Winter Solstice and also CNY. I hope he enjoyed the food, because I can’t remember, haha!

  3. Nicki Chen
    Nicki Chen November 24, 2014 at 8:25 am | | Reply

    Good tips!

    I remember a delicious stuffed chicken a Malaysian friend cooked. She cleverly de-boned the chicken and stuffed it with a delicious sticky rice mixture. The only thing I remember in the sticky rice stuffing was the chestnuts.

  4. Ri
    Ri November 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm | | Reply

    Ooh, neat! Although I’m familiar with American Thanksgiving treats, it was really interesting to read about the Chinese equivalentsーall new to me! That eight-treasures rice sounds delicious. 🙂

  5. chinaelevatorstories
    chinaelevatorstories November 24, 2014 at 6:07 pm | | Reply

    Your explanations for what American Thanksgiving is like are so creative (and the suggestions for what you can substitute). I can literally see your Chinese family’s “I finally understand what you’re talking about” expression on their faces.

    We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Austria, so I enjoyed getting a look into what Thanksgiving is like through your post. Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Judith
    Judith November 25, 2014 at 8:30 pm | | Reply

    That all makes Chinese sense. Now could you tell me how I can explain the Dutch holiday Sinterklaas to Chinese? I haven’t been succesful, and my boyfriend even saw me in action as ‘Black Pete’ with his own eyes. (I can explain Sinterklaast to other westerners: Black Pete is like one of Santa’s little helpers… but that doesn’t make much sense to Chinese either).

    1. SBB
      SBB November 26, 2014 at 7:02 am | | Reply

      Zwarte Piet strikes most Americans who learn about it as something between odd and racist. David Sedaris wrote a great story of his own incredulity towards the matter called “Six to Eight Black Men” (unfortunately not officially translated into Chinese that I am aware of).

  7. 感恩节快乐! | Xiananigans November 28, 2014 at 2:24 am |
  8. Yocelyn
    Yocelyn November 29, 2014 at 1:08 am | | Reply

    I don’t really celebrate thanksgiving, but this was a nice read. You were really able to describe it with the different Chinese dishes. John looks like he ready to eat in that first photo. I hope your Thanksgiving went well. You should update us soon on the dinner you prepared for your family. 😀

  9. Mabel Kwong
    Mabel Kwong December 7, 2014 at 9:00 pm | | Reply

    I’ve always wondered how to explain Thanksgiving to my Chinese Malaysian family. Though I’m from Australia and we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I grew up watching American TV and reading American books to get a good idea of it. There were a few times where Thanskgiving was mentioned in the schools that I went to too.

    Turkey as the American version of duck? I love that analogy. After all, when roasted, both meats look quite similar 😀 I love the eight-treasures rice and how you equated it to stuffing – glutinous rice tends to be a tad saltier and more filling than normal rice, and holds as a savoury dish on its own.

  10. Sveta
    Sveta December 8, 2014 at 2:21 pm | | Reply

    LOL I frequently have to explain Jewish holidays and how we celebrate New Years to people. I usually compare them to American holidays which does help out a lot. (Jewish holiday Purim I sort of compare to Halloween, Rosh Hashanah is Jewish New Years, and my family treats New Years as christmas.)

  11. Brutus
    Brutus December 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm | | Reply

    This girl is truly great at explaining American stuff to average Chinese people. You are better than Zhou Enlai the diplomat who used to explain to foreign dignitaries that 梁山伯与祝英台 was a Chinese version of Romeo & Juliet.
    hahah Pumpkin pie =/= 绿豆糕
    Cranberry=/= 山里红
    it makes me LMAO and at the same time helps me understand the stuff better because I never seen or tasted these things. People are actually similar all over the world so using simile is always the best way to explain things.

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