Thanksgiving is a holiday in the U.S. that isn’t celebrated in Colombia. But for foreigners in Medellín we show how to celebrate Thanksgiving in Medellín.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the U.S. that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. In 2019, this holiday is on Thursday, November 28. This holiday in the U.S. has its historical roots in religious and cultural traditions but is also celebrated as a secular holiday.

A few other countries have a Thanksgiving holiday. For example, in Canada, it’s on the second Monday of October. And in Australia, it’s on the last Wednesday of November.

No countries in Latin America really celebrate Thanksgiving. So, in Colombia, Thursday, November 28, isn’t a holiday and you won’t see any celebrations for this holiday in Colombia, even though Colombia has 18 holidays during the year.

One of the downsides of being an expat living in a foreign country like Colombia is missing out on some celebrations with family and friends such as a traditional Thanksgiving celebration.

However, it is possible to celebrate Thanksgiving in Medellín and we look at ways for foreigners to celebrate this holiday in Medellín.

Note the above photo is a traditional Thanksgiving dinner by Ms Jones from California in the United States.

History of Thanksgiving in the U.S.

Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated to the U.S. from England carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England.

The modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is traced to a well-recorded 1619 event in Virginia and a sparsely documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth, which is present-day Massachusetts.

Thanksgiving proclamations were made mostly by church leaders in New England up until 1682, when by both state and church leaders started providing proclamations. And George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide celebration in the U.S. on November 26, 1789.

The Thanksgiving holiday is currently celebrated in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday in November by federal legislation in 1941. And it has been an annual tradition in the United States by presidential proclamation since 1863.

Centerpiece of a contemporary Thanksgiving meal is a turkey, photo by M. Rehemtula

Centerpiece of a contemporary Thanksgiving meal is a turkey, photo by M. Rehemtula

What is a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner?

The centerpiece of a contemporary Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S. is a large meal that generally includes a large roasted turkey.

Turkey is the most common main dish for Thanksgiving, to the point where this holiday is sometimes called “Turkey Day.”

Also, most turkeys are stuffed with a stuffing mixture that is bread-based and the turkey is roasted. Sage is an herb that is traditionally used in the stuffing, along with carrots, celery, parsley and onions. Other ingredients, such as chestnuts, sausage or bacon, cranberries, raisins or apples, may be added to stuffing.

Many people from the U.S. would say a Thanksgiving dinner is “incomplete” without cranberry sauce, stuffing or dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy and Brussel sprouts. Other common side dishes include sweet potatoes and squash.

In addition, other roasted vegetables are often included, such as carrots, beets, turnips, asparagus, Brussel sprouts or cauliflower. Also, a relish tray with pickles, olives, onions or peppers is often included as part of the meal or as an appetizer.

Pumpkin pie is a typical dessert, photo by Evan-Amos

Pumpkin pie is a typical dessert, photo by Evan-Amos

Finally, for dessert, pies are usually served as part of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, particularly pumpkin pie. But apple pie, sweet potato pie, cherry pie, chocolate pie and pecan pie are often served as well. 

Where to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Medellín?

In our weekly Medellín events calendar we included three restaurants in Medellín listed below, which are having traditional Thanksgiving dinners.

Thanksgiving Dinner, photo courtesy of Patrick's Irish Pub

Thanksgiving Dinner, photo courtesy of Patrick’s Irish Pub

1. Thanksgiving at Patrick’s Irish Pub

Where: Patrick’s Irish Pub, Carrera 37A # 8A-43, Parque Lleras, El Poblado, Medellín

When: Thursday, November 28, 1:00 pm to midnight

Cost: 70,000 pesos per person

Event link: https://medellinguru.com/patricks/

Patrick’s Irish Pub is a large sports bar in Parque Lleres in El Poblado that enables customers to enjoy an American sports bar experience. This is the largest sports bar in Medellín I am aware of with two floors. And it is very popular with expats and tourists visiting the city.

For 2019, Patrick’s is hosting its 7th annual Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner costs 70,000 peso per person and includes homestyle turkey, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, mixed veggies, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, fresh roll with butter, and pumpkin pie with whip cream. Reservations and walk-ins are welcome.

Thanksgiving Dinner, photo courtesy of Sweet Georgia Café

Thanksgiving Dinner, photo courtesy of Sweet Georgia Café

2. Thanksgiving at Sweet Georgia Café

Where: Sweet Georgia Café, Carrera 78 # 33EE-24, Laureles, Medellín

When: Thursday, November 28, 4 pm

Cost: 54,000 pesos per person

Event link: https://www.facebook.com/SweetGeorgiaCafe/

Sweet Georgia Café in Laureles is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner in Laureles.

The dinner costs 45,000 pesos per person and includes turkey, ham, fried chicken, potato salad, mac-n-cheese, corn, cornbread, yeast rolls, apple pie, carrot cake and sweet potato pie. Reservations are required.

Thanksgiving Meal, photo courtesy of Café Revolución 2

Thanksgiving Meal, photo courtesy of Café Revolución 2

3. Thanksgiving at Café Revolución 2

Where: Café Revolución 2, Calle 37 #79-32, Laureles, Medellín

When: Thursday, November 28, 1 pm to 5 pm

Cost: 40,000 pesos per person + 10,000 pesos for dessert, only 30 spaces available

Event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/481845479095805/

Café Revolución 2 in Laureles is also hosting a Thanksgiving dinner in Laureles.

The dinner costs 40,000 pesos per person plus 10,000 pesos for dessert. The dinner includes turkey with bacon and pork stuffing, ham, mashed potatoes, candied carrots, salad and apple crumble with vanilla ice cream. Reservations are required.

Fruits and vegetables for sale at Plaza Minorista

Fruits and vegetables for sale at Plaza Minorista

Where to Buy Ingredients in Medellín for this U.S. Holiday?

Instead of going out perhaps you want to have a Thanksgiving meal at home with friends or family. Also, maybe want to introduce this meal to some Colombian friends or family. So, where can you find the ingredients in Medellín?

Turkey – this is the main ingredient and can be found at the end of November in PriceSmart and Carulla and sometimes in Jumbo and Exito.

Stuffing – you won’t be able to find pre-made stuffing at the grocery stores in Medellín. But you can find the ingredients to make stuffing yourself and there are many recipes on the Internet such as this classic Thanksgiving stuffing recipe.

Cranberry sauce – it is possible to sometimes find cranberry sauce in the imported section at Carulla and Exito. Or you can buy fresh cranberries at Plaza Minorista and make the sauce yourself using a recipe for cranberry sauce.

Potatoes, carrots and other vegetables – every grocery store will have these. But the biggest selection with good prices is found at Plaza Minorista.

Pumpkin pie – in over eight years living in Medellín, I have never seen canned pumpkin in stores in Medellín. But fresh pumpkins can be bought at many grocery stores and also at Plaza Minorista. So, you can make pumpkin pie using fresh pumpkins.

Pueblos near Medellín worth a visit

Pueblos near Medellín worth a visit

Visit Nearby Pueblos During Thanksgiving

If you are working for a U.S.-based company, you will typically get Thursday and Friday off for vacation days for Thanksgiving.

Colombians will be working on these days. So, this would be a good time to visit pueblos near Medellín, as there won’t be big crowds of Colombians that are found in these pueblos on Colombian holidays.

We previously looked at the eight best pueblos near Medellín worth a visit including Guatapé, Santa Fe de Antioquia, Jardín and Jericó.

We also looked at four hidden gem pueblos near Medellín that you won’t find in most of the English language guidebooks including Barbosa, San Carlos, Abejorral and El Carmen de Viboral.

Thanksgiving turkey, photo by Robert Taylor

Thanksgiving turkey, photo by Robert Taylor

The Bottom Line:  How to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Medellín

Thanksgiving is a major holiday in the U.S., which isn’t celebrated in Colombia. But that doesn’t mean if you are a foreigner in Medellín (or other cities in Colombia) that you can’t celebrate this holiday while in Colombia.

There are at least three restaurants in Medellín serving traditional Thanksgiving meals listed above. Also, it is possible to buy the ingredients in Medellín or in other cities in Colombia to cook your own Thanksgiving dinner.

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