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An Au Pair Guide to Thanksgiving - An American Tradition

As an au pair in America, partaking in the many traditions of Thanksgiving is a great way to develop a deeper understanding of American culture. From football to the traditional Turkey feast, here is a brief guide from EurAupair about modern Thanksgiving in America.

The Basics of Thanksgiving

As its name implies, Thanksgiving is a time to express your gratitude for all the good things in your life, and is often celebrated with family and close friends. It is thought to have originated with the first harvest after the Pilgrims landed, but did not become a national holiday for over 200 years after. Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November with a huge feast, parades, and of course, football games (American football).

The Feast of Thanksgiving

You simply cannot have Thanksgiving without a magnificent feast. Home cooks often start preparing food days in advance, whipping up dishes commonly reserved for the Holidays. Traditional dishes often include:

  • Turkey and Dressing (also called stuffing in some areas)
  • Ham
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Cranberry Jelly, Sauce, or Relish
  • Candied Yams or Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Honey Glazed Snap Peas and Carrots 
  • Breads, Rolls, and Biscuits
  • Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
  • Roasted Squash
  • Pumpkin, Pecan, and Fruit Pies
  • A Selection of Cookies, Cakes, and Other Treats

Traditions Beyond the Table

What started as a way to give thanks for a bountiful harvest, has grown to include many traditions that have little to do with food. In fact, some of the more common holiday traditions Au Pairs may come across while in America include:

  • Local Parades 
  • Macy's Day Parade - the National Parade 
  • Watching Football Together
  • Friendly Games - both inside and outside
  • Breaking the Wishbone
  • Many Leftovers

Another long held Thanksgiving tradition is giving thanks. Each family does this in their own unique way. Some share their gratitude around the table before the Turkey is carved, others offer toasts after the meal. 


A new tradition has emerged in the past years in which many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with their friends in addition to the festivities with their families. One may organize a Friendsgving by hosting a potluck and being grateful for the time spent together or coming up with new ideas.

The Day After

Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday shopping season, which spurred retailers to offer drastic sales and promotions in the hope of pulling in those holiday dollars. Today, stores hold massive sales the Friday following Thanksgiving (Black Friday); often, some families wait all night for the chance to get those great deals.

To learn more about the American Thanksgiving, or to find out how to become an Au Pair in America, please contact EurAupair today!

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