Celebrating Holidays When Living Abroad

Holidays have a special place in our hearts. We grow up with certain traditions—some wacky, some practical, and some that sound crazy when we try to explain them to outsiders. Regardless of how we choose to celebrate our special holidays, celebrating a special occasion outside of the country of origin may make things a bit more complicated.

For one, there are no seasonal reminders that the holiday is approaching. As Sundae mentions in our podcast discussion, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, there are no changing colors of the leaves to indicate the traditional autumn season is upon us. It can create some last minute scrambling if you have to source food or decorations or have to make things from scratch, as one often has to.

We have dropped many US traditions except for a few—Thanksgiving being the one that we’ve held onto the tightest. Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Sweden like it is in the US—or at all, really. Technically Tacksgiving is a day on their calendar but it comes and goes without much notice.

One benefit to living abroad is that we can discard holidays that we never liked in the first place because there is no social pressure to celebrate them. 

We celebrate Thanksgiving because it is a special time for us to be reflective thankful for everything we have in our lives.

We feel like we are positive ambassadors of the Thanksgiving spirit and we hope that our annual dinner feast becomes a tradition that our Swedish friends look forward to each year.

Take a listen to the discussion I had with Sundae Schneider-Bean on her podcast, Expat Happy Hour here.

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