To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate: The Thanksgiving Predicament

Article by Isabel Quah


It is widely known that in the Philippines, visible (and audible) signs of the holiday season are rapidly approaching. From bright mall decorations to the constant influx of Christmas carols blasting through public speakers, one cannot help but feel the excitement of the coming festivities.  Once the calendars hit the “-ber” (Brrr) months, you can bet that everything Christmas themed will be available.

But one celebration during the “-ber” months is Thanksgiving, a traditional North American holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November (which falls on the 27th this year). Thanksgiving follows traditions of the early Pilgrims at Plymouth who gave thanks to a successful harvest in 1621, and religious roots have also been traced back to this family-oriented holiday. Being thankful for many of the small things in life is something that most people take for granted on a day-to-day basis, as we tend to focus on the negative things in life rather than the positive. Therefore, beyond the elaborate feasts of turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving conveys a very important message: that of thankfulness. As holding a family feast is a Thanksgiving tradition, many families take this opportunity to spend well-deserved family time, while also reflecting on what they would like to express gratitude for.

Despite this important message, Thanksgiving does not appear to be as widely celebrated in the Philippines, in comparison to the Christmas hype. As the Philippines is a religious country, and both holidays have religious roots, the question is: Why is Thanksgiving, which is one of the most valued and important holidays in the U.S.A., not celebrated with the same fervor here in Manila? Despite elements of American influence in the Philippines due to the American colonization in the 20th Century, Thanksgiving is not widely celebrated here. Sophomore Jeffrey Bui remarks that “[Filipinos] celebrate Christmas so early, so it must be hard for Thanksgiving to become as significant because Christmas is one of [the] major holidays which people pay more attention to.”

However, some people do celebrate Thanksgiving despite not being American. One such person is Senior Janna Santos, who is 100% Filipina yet lived in the States and grew up celebrating Thanksgiving. She claims that it is “a way to say thank you for the people we have in our lives, as well as a great excuse to pig out on turkey and apple crumble!”  Whether you do or do not celebrate Thanksgiving, it is still important to be grateful for the people around you and the opportunities you are given everyday.