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How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Day the Filipino Way

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Day the Filipino Way
Trouble sourcing turkey in Manila? A roast chicken is just as scrumptious.

Thanksgiving Day is a Western holiday meant to celebrate the harvest of the year. Americans publicly acknowledge blessings in the past year and respond by giving thanks. A celebration often involves family and friends sharing memories over a bountiful feast of roast turkey, casseroles, and pies.

When Is Thanksgiving Day?

Americans celebrated the first Thanksgiving as a harvest feast in the fall of 1621. It evolved through the years, and President Abraham Lincoln eventually declared it an American public holiday in 1863. Since then, the celebration happens every fourth Thursday of November. 

Did you know that other countries and cultures also observe Thanksgiving as a national holiday? In Canada, harvest celebrations fall on the second Monday of October. And in Germany, it happens every first Sunday of October.

Is There Thanksgiving Day in the Philippines?

As an American colony from 1898 to 1946, the Philippines celebrated Thanks giving on the same day as the United States. President Manuel Quezon even declared it an official local holiday in 1935. Commemoration paused during the Japanese occupation, although locals still celebrated secretly. The tradition returned during the administration of former President Marcos, who even moved the date to September 21. It ended after the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

Today, though Thanksgiving is no longer an official holiday in the Philippines, many Filipinos celebrate it as a cultural tradition. Some restaurants even create special menus featuring classic dishes, like roast turkey with cranberry sauce, pecan pie, and stuffing. Even if it’s nota major event anymore, you can still enjoy a good feast with your loved ones.

A Filipino-Inspired Thanksgiving Day Menu

What’s a Filipino party without enough food to feed a crowd? For a unique menu, combine traditional American elements with Pinoy flavors and fun twists. Here are some ideas: 

Roast chicken or lechon

Trouble sourcing a whole turkey in Manila? Go for roast chicken or a whole roast pig (lechon!)instead. Just don’t slice it beforehand! Make carving part of your Thanksgiving program. Serve your meat alongside deeply savory gravy and roast vegetable side dishes to complete the experience. And don’t forget the rice!

Pandesal turkey or chicken stuffing

Typical turkey or chicken stuffing uses French bread, sourdough, or croutons. Its name also suggests stuffing the recipe into your turkey or chicken to lend extra flavor. But you can skip this and just prepare it in a baking dish like a casserole. And to give this dish a Filipino twist, use pandesal instead. Since the local bread is softer and fluffier, toast it first until crunchy.

Fried lumpia with ham

Looking for a winner appetizer that will get everyone excited for the meal? Look no further! Since glazed ham is a well-loved holiday dish, use it to stuff your fried lumpia. You can create spring rolls filled with ham and cheese or a healthier version with avocados and chopped vegetables. Make a sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce using honey ham glaze and local chili peppers. Or you can also pair them with a cranberry sauce flavored with calamansi.

Crispy pancit platter

Pancit is a party essential! There are many different kinds to prepare, including pancit canton, pancit bihon, pancit palabok, and pancit Malabon. To surprise your guests, serve your noodles fried until crisp. People will wonder what the platter of crunchy strands is doing on the table. Right before eating, pour over your sauce and mix it in front of everyone. How’s that for entertainment?

Orange kamote pie à la mode

Pie is the mainstay dessert of any Thanksgiving celebration. You can’t leave the table without a slice filled with roasted pecans, caramelized apples, or mashed sweet potato. Go for a local version and use orange kamote. Don’t forget to top it with Selecta Super Thick Vanilla Ice Cream for a truly indulgent dessert.

What are you thankful for this year? Call your friends and family and bring everyone together for a memorable meal. Put together this Pinoy-style Thanksgiving Day menu and savor the blessings that have come your way.

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