Thanksgiving in Spain – How to Celebrate Turkey Day Abroad

November 22, 2021

Soon it’ll be Thanksgiving.

Or as the Spanish call it, some random Thursday in November.

(Just kidding. Actually, it’s called “Acción de Gracias”.)

You might be looking for a party, and if you are, you’re in the right place.

Have no fear! Mr Chorizo’s got you covered – covered in hot, salty giblet-flavored gravy, that is. So read on…

See, my first few years across the pond, I didn’t care about US traditions at all.

But the longer I’m here in Spain – over 17 years now, incidentally – the more I like doing things that are a bit more “American” from time to time.

So while the day isn’t celebrated in Spain as an official holiday, a lot of US expats like to get their turkey on extra-officially, even if that means waiting till the weekend.

There’s a big question, though: can you get up a real Thanksgiving dinner in Spain?

Sure you can.

Here’s how…

Where to shop for Thanksgiving ingredients in Spain

First off, the turkey.

Your town probably has a few municipal markets with places called pollería in them.

There might already be a turkey sitting there in their fridge, but if not, just go a few days before and pre-order. They should be able to get you one for about 6 or 8 euros a kilo. (Last I checked, the huge wave of inflation hadn’t hit turkey like it’s hit other food products. Don’t even get me started on olive oil…)

Anyway, cranberry sauce, packaged stuffing, and things like that can be had at Taste of America, a franchise that has locations in many cities around Spain, and also offers delivery.

Or you can check out the dried cranberry selection at supermarkets like Lidl and Mercadona, and make your sauce from scratch. Ask for “arándanos rojos” and they’ll probably sort you out. (Careful, though: arándanos can also be blueberries. Make sure you ask for “rojos”.)

Now you might not find a classic orange pumpkin for pie-making in your Spanish market, but you can surely find a butternut squash at a good frutería. Or just buy the pre-made filling at the aforementioned American store.

The nuclear option for all this is to go to your nearest “Supermercado El Corte Inglés”. They’ll have a lot of this stuff, probably including the turkey. Or if you’ve got a Costco in your general area, they’ll most likely have everything you need.

And some restaurants who deal with a lot of expats might be serving Thanksgiving dinner as well: check your local Irish pubs or American-themed restaurants, for example.

Don’t forget the wine!

Celebrating Thanksgiving with international friends

But who to celebrate with?

In my experience, international people are more than happy to celebrate Thanksgiving – they’ve all seen it on TV and in movies, and have some curiosity as to what the fuss is about.

So invite some friends! Nothing like sharing a bit of your culture with others.

You do have friends, right?

(If not, here are some tips on how to make some.)

While you eat, you can tell them all about typical American Thanksgiving traditions like watching football, debating your insane relatives about recent developments in US politics, and collapsing in a food coma before getting up at 5 AM the next day for Black Friday shopping.

I recommend you watch South Park’s 3-part Black Friday saga while you’re cooking. The first episode is here.

Inevitably, at a Thanksgiving dinner in Spain, someone will ask, “What exactly are we celebrating here?”

My go-to answer is: it’s complicated, so let’s call it a harvest festival. Perhaps a celebration of the abundance of the New World.

Puritans and Natives, you know. Feasting on eels and corn, back in the 1620s.

Are you feeling grateful yet?

Really, though, what I like about Thanksgiving is the focus on gratitude.

It’s been a tough couple of years around here. But there are still things to be grateful for.

Today, late in 2021, I’m grateful that – despite the fact that I’m barrelling down on age 40  – I’m still healthy as a bull, and that business is good here online.

My books are selling well on Amazon, the morons in the Spanish government aren’t actively ruining my life (at least not right now) and I’m still feeling fairly optimistic about the future, sometimes.

So let’s focus on the positive. Sound good?

Also, let me just say: turkey kinda sucks.

It’s like chicken, but worse. Good thing we only do this once a year, huh?

Thankfully yours,

Daniel AKA Mr Chorizo.

P.S. Some people have this idea that Americans don’t know anything about other countries. Is it true? Check out my thoughts on American Ignorance for more on that.

P.P.S. After Thanksgiving, we’ve got Spain’s never-ending series of December / January holidays. You can check out Christmas in Madrid for all the info. Or how about the classic list post 8 things that might surprise you about the holidays in Spain? That one’s good too. Have fun!

Related Posts

May 19, 2024

I’m in Toledo. This was once the capital of Spain, and it’s Read More

May 14, 2024

I recently got a private tour of the Prado Museum. (The empty Read More

May 13, 2024

Visit Madrid in spring. I dare you. Visit Madrid in spring and Read More

About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}