Thanksgiving in Australia

The Travel Children are big fans of the US. They have visited a number of times and have a real appreciation of American culture. We haven’t been lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving there yet, but the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York is on the bucket list. The holiday isn’t widely celebrated in Australia, but the Travel Children were keen to learn more about its origins and the traditions associated with it. Read on to find out how we celebrated Thanksgiving in Australia!

What is Thanksgiving Day?

The Travel Children discovered some excellent videos for kids on YouTube explaining the history of the holiday. The older Travel Child learnt that:

“It’s a national holiday celebrated in the US, giving thanks for the harvest. It started with the pilgrim settlers who celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day in 1621. The winter of 1620 had been really bad and the local tribe helped the pilgrims survive. They taught them about crops, hunting and fishing. In gratitude for the harvest and the help they received, they held a thanksgiving feast with the Native Americans.”

Thanksgiving has a lot in common with the Harvest festivals held in the UK so the kids could really relate to the celebration.

Thanksgiving Dinner Australian-style

Of course the traditional thanksgiving dinner is a feast of roast turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and all the yummy sides! However, here in Australia it is the start of summer and temperatures are beginning to soar. Cooking a turkey in the oven for hours is just not pleasant at this time of year when it’s so hot. We tried it one Christmas and everyone in the house was melting by the time it was ready! So, we took an alternative route and cooked turkey burgers on the BBQ and had an al-fresco Thanksgiving dinner, washed down with American Cream Soda!

For dessert, I had planned on making pumpkin pie, but couldn’t find any canned pumpkin in the shops. Instead I baked chocolate brownies using my go-to recipe:

Chocolate brownie recipe

  1. Melt 115g chocolate and 175g butter in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Transfer to mixing bowl and add 340g sugar and 1tsp vanilla essence.
  3. Whisk 3 eggs before adding slowly to mixing bowl, beating mix as you do so.
  4. Add 115g plain flour and 1tsp baking powder. Mix well.
  5. Pour contents of mixing bowl into greased and lined baking tin.
  6. Bake for 40 mins at 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4
  7. Remove from oven and cool slightly before cutting into squares. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Serve with ice cream (on a hot Australian summer day) or cream (on a cool American winter’s day).

Most major supermarkets in Australian cities have small American sections, so if you are craving Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Hershey’s Kisses then you should be fine!

Thanksgiving Activities

Pinterest was my best friend in finding some excellent activities that I could share with the children. A particular favourite was a craft where each family member writes something they are thankful for on a feather. The feathers are then stuck on a picture of a turkey and you are left with a meaningful souvenir of your celebration.

I have created a board on Pinterest highlighting a variety of Thanksgiving activities for children. From largescale projects to easy printables, there is something for everyone. The younger Travel Child especially enjoyed a paint by numbers turkey colouring sheet that I have added to the board.

Thanksgiving Movie

We were looking for a light-hearted Thanksgiving movie that the kids would enjoy and found Jim Henson’s ‘Turkey Hollow‘ in our local library. The movie is set in the small town of Turkey Hollow where the Emmerson family are spending Thanksgiving with their Great-Aunt Cly. A devious neighbour has his sights set on Aunt Cly’s farm, so Tim and Annie Emmerson set out to find the “Howling Hoodoo” monster. If they find it they can claim a reward and save the farm. The younger Travel Child says:

“I really liked the monster puppets. They were so cute.”

I would say that this film is probably more suited to younger viewers. The monsters, originally conceived by Jim Henson before he passed away, will grab their attention but may be considered a bit too childish by teens.

Thanksgiving Bedtime Story

The Travel Children are big fans of Dav Pilkey’s books, especially the Captain Underpants series. He has also written a Thanksgiving story called ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving. It is humorous adaptation of the famous Christmas poem. The illustrations, also by Dav Pilkey, are really engaging and will have the kids peering over your shoulder as you read. I think it’s a great bedtime story for Thanksgiving night.

The Travel Children really enjoyed celebrating Thanksgiving in Australia. What are the Thanksgiving traditions in your family? Where do your family celebrate? Let us know in the comments below.


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