Why French People Should Celebrate Thanksgiving (in France)

Thanksgiving in France

What about Thanksgiving in France?

Have you ever wondered if French people celebrate Thanksgiving? They don’t, which is really surprising considering their love for home-cooked meals and gathering with family and friends on Sundays. Since celebrating Thanksgiving in France is a real challenge for Americans, it may be time to introduce a new French national holiday.

I remember my first Thanksgiving in the States. My husband and I were so happy to get a four-day weekend that we decided to go to Rehoboth, the closest beach town to Washington, DC. Instead of turkey, Brussels sprouts, and pecan pie, we left early Thursday morning and wondered how difficult it was to get gas for the car. Then, when we arrived in Saint Michaels, MD where we had planned to have lunch, we spent over an hour trying to find a place to eat. Many restaurants were closed, and the ones that were open required a reservation that we hadn’t thought about.

Laugh at me, dear friends! We just didn’t know better because we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in France or in Germany.

What? No Thanksgiving in France? Well, of course Americans celebrate their national holiday. Still, the tradition hasn’t sparked a similar holiday among French people, which is weird, if you ask me. For example, Halloween and Black Friday arrived in France many years ago, although Black Friday mostly occurs in the form of online sales. However, nobody in France knows that this shopping celebration follows Thanksgiving Thursday.

Why should French people celebrate Thanksgiving?

To begin with, the French love to eat and every Sunday, family and friends get together for a home-cooked meal. I’ve heard so often from American friends that every meal in French family could be Thanksgiving! Although this is music to my ears, honestly, I don’t cook a three-star Michelin meal for my family every day. But, I get it. We French care about food, we love to cook, and we enjoy a good meal prepared with love, just like you Americans on Thanksgiving!

Furthermore, it’s a wonderful idea to have an event devoted to thanking people. I am still thankful for my husband’s job that brought us here. I am thankful for the teachers at the daycare who taught English to my little ones (and potty-trained Pauline, which is simply unimaginable in Germany where I lived before). What about Erik, our Bolivian contractor who managed to finish the remodeling of our house before the container arrived at our place? Or about our new friends who enthusiastically share knowledge and tips and always point us in the right direction?

In addition, in Catholic France, it would be great to have at least one holiday that is not linked to religion. A French Thanksgiving could embrace all families and cultures because you don’t need to believe in a particular religion to be thankful. I think it would also better reflect the reality of a diverse but divided France.

Last but not least, exactly one week before Thanksgiving, the French enjoy a young red light wine, the Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais is nothing for wine snobs, as it is prepared quickly and goes on the shelves just six to eight weeks after the harvest. But, Beaujolais is associated with joy and conviviality. Wouldn’t it be the perfect wine for Thanksgiving?


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  • Sorry, but what a load of tosh! Thanksgiving is thanksgiving, with a very specific history that no other country can share, obviously. What a ridiculous idea to want to import this wonderful celebration into other nations’ cultures! If the Americans want to celebrate Thanksgiving when they live abroad, good on them. If they want to share the moment with locals, good on them for sharing the culture, but getting non-Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving among themselves with no Americans there, how ludicrous.

    • I appreciate your comment! Thanks for reading my post to the end, and taking the time to tell me that you disagree.

  • Truly and engaging article, as all of your blogs are, Catherine. Does Beaujolais Nouveau wine assist digestion for people who have consumed too much turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving? If so, please tell me where to buy it! I, like most Americans, ate too much today. I wonder if the French do that on Sundays when they enjoy a big meal.

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