Thanksgiving in Sweden… not quite the same

It’s that time of year again!

Many of my friends in Stockholm – Americans and Swedes alike – have hosted Thanksgiving dinners over the years. Each of them spent hours slaving away in the kitchen, poring over a cook book or an Internet how-to guide, and the results have (fortunately) always been a delicious turkey with the trimmings. I’m usually a guest so I typically bring a side, some wine, and of course, my big appetite. Each year, it’s been a lovely evening with tons of food and wine, good laughter with dear friends, and the usual food coma that comes right after the turkey. And yet, for an expat, Thanksgiving doesn’t quite feel the same as it does back home:

  1. Thanksgiving is a normal work day, so there’s hardly any time to prepare a turkey, let alone the sides. Did you know you’re supposed to let a frozen turkey defrost over a 2+ day period?!
  2. It’s hard to buy the right ingredients to make traditional side dishes. For example, there’s no cranberry sauce, no pumpkin pie filling. More on this later.
  3. No family traveling long distances to celebratetogether.
  4. No football on TV.
  5. No Macy’s Parade.
  6. No one else in the country cares that it’s Thanksgiving.
  7. Everyone works the day after.
  8. And finally, there’s no Black Friday (not really, anyway) to look forward to after the food coma wears off.

…all that said, we still managed to make it a cozy night on Thursday. I didn’t bother with a turkey and instead went the cheap and easy way and picked up a rotisserie chicken at the local ICA grocery store. But aside from that hack, we made corn bread, a pecan pie, mashed sweet potatoes, and even snickerdoodle cookies. And of course, there was plenty of wine (Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel). All in all it was a satisfying, Swedish-version of Thanksgiving.

The biggest surprise was that many retailers in Stockholm did their own, “lagom” version of Black Friday. Many stores offered 20-30% off different items, and some stores are even calling it “Black Weekend” and running their specials all weekend long. I even took advantage of two deals: one to host trulyswedish (this blog) and one at a local mall where they were selling gift cards at a big discount.

How were your #trulyswedish Thanksgivings? Were you a guest at someone’s dinner party, or did you prepare the turkey yourself? Did you make any pies or sides? Let us know in the comments!

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