Britain & Travel, Mindfulness

Thanksgiving in England

This year I’m spending the fourth Thursday in November – Thanksgiving Day in the USA – in England with family. Having been in the US now for over a decade, I was curious to see how much of this tradition would have crept across the Pond. My interest was also sparked by a recent conversation with friend and blogger April Harris, who mentioned that unless one is a churchgoer in England, the concept of an autumn harvest festival (with accompanying appreciation for safely gathered crops) really doesn’t filter into mainstream life.

Thanksgiving in England | Pauline Wiles

So, I’ve had my eyes open to see what aspects of this special American holiday have been adopted in Blighty. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to see turkey on Thursday’s menu, since the Brits generally eat that on Christmas Day. Equally, it’s a working day for almost everyone here, hence no cross-country drives to descend on relatives. But I thought perhaps some inkling of the importance of taking time to honor good fortune would be evident.

Sadly not. So far, there’s been no sign of pumpkin pie. No newspaper articles encouraging a gratitude list, or a family gathering featuring a deliberate pause to be thankful. Instead, the only mentions I’ve seen here have been of Black Friday: the commercial part of the holiday weekend which I know I’m not alone in finding appallingly distasteful. And the shops here started their “offers” early: I spotted promotional signs on November 12th, and possibly they were around even before that. How disappointing that the Brits have accepted a cultural shift which includes frenzied shopping and shoving, without embracing the thankful part too.

There’s much that comes out of America which the British are (understandably) reluctant to adopt. However, I feel Thanksgiving is a concept worth embracing. April asked her Instagram followers if there should  be a form of Thanksgiving in England and received an enthusiastic response. We don’t know if people reacted to the nudge to pause and appreciate, or simply fancied an extra day off. But I do know that on Thursday, at our small family dinner table in a village near Cambridge, I’ll be suggesting that we all notice just a handful of things for which we’re thankful.

Wherever you are in the world, will you do the same?


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3 Comment

  1. Reply
    Tracey Gemmell
    November 21, 2018 at 3:35 am

    America takes a fair beating by many who see its global influence more related to commercialism than anything else. While I don’t see Thanksgiving catching on in the UK, it would be nice if the concept ‘thankfulness’ caught on everywhere, every day. Enjoy your turkey-less Thanksgiving!

  2. Reply
    April J Harris
    November 21, 2018 at 8:05 am

    I would love to see more of an attitude of gratitude over here in the UK, Pauline, and I would love an actual Thanksgiving, although somehow I doubt that will happen anytime soon. Thank you so much for linking to my blog and IG. I really enjoyed our conversation, and it’s nice to know that it isn’t just me who is dismayed that the UK has caught on to Black Friday but not Thanksgiving.

  3. Reply
    Jean | Delightful Repast
    November 21, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    Pauline, I don’t think having a Thanksgiving Day really has a lasting effect on people’s “attitude of gratitude.” Those of us who cultivate that attitude do it every day, not just when “Hallmark” tells us to! As I told April, I don’t think the UK adopting a Thanksgiving Day would accomplish what you wish. It is now a televised sports and shopping day. People need more than a yearly reminder of all they have to be thankful for.

    No sign of pumpkin pie?! Still? Decades ago friends visited (the US) from Sheffield and loved my pumpkin pie (their first). So I sent them home with my recipe and several cans of pumpkin puree as they didn’t think they’d be able to find it at home. (My post today could be called a tutorial on pumpkin pie.) Our nephew is in England right now, having a grand time, as I’m sure you are!

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