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 2021, this holiday is on Thursday, November 25. 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 25, 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.
This 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.
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.
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?
We look at a couple restaurants in Medellín with traditional Thanksgiving meals.
1. Thanksgiving at Patrick’s Irish Pub
Where: Patrick’s Irish Pub, Carrera 37A # 8A-43, Parque Lleras, El Poblado, Medellín
When: Thursday, November 25, 1:00 pm to 10 pm
Cost: 88,000 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 2021, Patrick’s is hosting its 8th annual Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner costs 88,000 peso per person and includes homestyle turkey, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, mixed veggies, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, fresh roll with butter, and pumpkin or apple pie with whip cream. Reservations and walk-ins are welcome. Note: Reservations for Thanksgiving must be done in Patrick’s Facebook Messenger or at 300.339.4589.
2. Thanksgiving at Sweet Georgia Café
Where: Sweet Georgia Café, Carrera 78 # 33EE-24, Laureles, Medellín or El Poblado location of Sweet Georgia Café
When: Thursday, November 25, last year started at 4pm, they have not yet announced when for 2021.
Cost: 50,000 pesos per person (last year’s price)
Event link: https://www.facebook.com/SweetGeorgiaCafe/
Sweet Georgia Café in Laureles is last year hosted a Thanksgiving buffet in Laureles.
The Thanksgiving buffet included turkey, fried turkey, beef ribs, ham, potato salad, mac-n-cheese, collard greens, rolls, apple pie, carrot cake and sweet potato pie.
Thanksgiving at Brooklyn Restaurant & Lounge?
Another place that may have Thanksgiving dinner is at Brooklyn Restaurant & Lounge in El Poblado
The dinner last year cost 70,000 pesos per person (kids are half price). The dinner includes roasted turkey, glazed ham with cherry sauce, whipped potatoes, sweet potato casserole, roasted vegetables, turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing, dinner rolls, ice tea and apple crisp with creme.
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?
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.
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.
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 two 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 holiday dinner.
If anyone knows of another restaurant in Medellín with a turkey dinner, please let use know on Facebook.
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Editors note: updated on November 12, 2021 with information about Thanksgiving meals restaurants in Medellín on November 25.