Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Turkey and all the trimmings, family gathered around the dinner table, pancit and crispy pata – a typical Thanksgiving feast? Yes, if you’re a typical Fil-Am family.

Historians still debate how Thanksgiving – celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November in the United States and on the 2nd Monday in October in Canada – all began.

But conventional thought places it in Plymouth , Massachusetts in 1621.

It started off as a harvest festival to express gratitude for God’s blessings.

Lizette Udquim of Lorton , Virginia said they prepare the traditional turkey feast but add crispy pata that she says is a little sour, Philippine-style. They also add pancit bihon and lasagna, fruit salad and cassava cake.

Gene Chu of Laurel , Maryland revealed she lays out a feast of turkey and greens, spaghetti, puto and biko.

Over the years, Filipinos have injected traditions and rituals from the Philippines to this favorite American holiday.

They’re almost sure to add some noodle or pasta dish because they are associated with good health and long life.

Sticky sweets have connotations of joy in family unity and togetherness.

Some like Udquim add rich pork dishes like crispy pata or lechon because they are usually seen as more representative of success and progress than poultry’s reputation of “isang kahig-isang tuka”.

Food is obviously the center of any Thanksgiving celebration.

But Mitzi Pickard, who’s single, has a different take on all those gastronomic predilections.

“I’m tired of feeding myself so I’d like to feed others,” she told the Manila Mail.

She will spend Thanksgiving helping out in a food line for homeless people, and was touching base with Thelma Billing, another Fil-Am civic leader, to look for a church to volunteer in.

Perhaps the only really universal facet of Thanksgiving is the gathering of family.

Chu revealed they have their Thanksgiving feast at noon, and then move to the Macalinao’s home in Silver Spring , Maryland for a birthday celebration – a ritual they have followed through the years.

This will be followed of course by that other American tradition – the Black Friday shopping rush.

It’s that time of the year when stores offer their biggest discounts, especially the “door-buster deals” and “early bird specials” – one family that camped outside a large department store chain in St. Petersburg , Florida a full week ahead of Black Friday was rewarded by the store with a free i-Pad.

Udquim said she’s staying off the queue this time. “No more shopping for me. I used to do that before when I was younger and stronger,” she says with a grin.

There are just some Thanksgiving rituals Fil-Ams can’t change.

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