Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in North America. Both Canada and USA celebrate this holiday in the fall season, but on different months. People gather with their families and friends to prepare traditional food for the holiday: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, special cranberry sauce and gravy!! Traditional desert for the holiday is sweet Pumpkin pie!

This holiday is not one found in my culture, so it made me think of what I can compare Thanksgiving to in Russia, Republic Buryatia. Mother Russia is big, each area has its own traditions and cultural days of celebrations, but in general there are no public holidays in fall that people would celebrate in the same way as Thanksgiving.

My childhood memories take me back home, to the Republic Buryatia in the nineties. A similar celebration to Thanksgiving would be a day, or more likely an evening, after a long day of harvesting in the giant potato fields. I don’t think people do that anymore, unless they have their own land to plant vegetables.

It used to be that certain companies, government agencies, financial institutions gave away giants pieces of land to their employees to plant potatoes. The fields were in the suburbs of Ulan-Ude city, in the steppe area.

The whole extended family was gathered together to work in that field. First you needed to plant potatoes in the spring, and then you need to “окучивать”  – hilling it up (My two writer-friends actually told me that there is no proper translation to this word, so “hilling up” will be my closest explanation and easy for understanding! 🙂 ) sometime in the early summer and in the fall you finally harvest it!

For me, before my teenage years, it was more about being with my family and altogether working on having lots of potatoes in the winter! Those were family times, when we all gathered: my cousins, nephews, uncles and aunts, my father, mama and my grandmamma, sometimes it could be ten of us. For this day we used to get up in the early morning to come to the field, taking with us prepared snacks and food for our lunch, as well as camp and work gear. We were playing, singing, talking and harvesting our beautiful field!

Sometimes the amount of potatoes we plant was the same amount that we would harvest…it wasn’t the best outcome, because the whole process needs a great amount of work. At that time all attention was on the result, but now when I think back – those were amazing family times full of love, times when we were united, happy and having fun with my family. It wasn’t a work day; it was a family day for me.

So that is how I think of Thanksgiving day; being grateful for a good harvest, for a great day outside with my relatives, for great work and just simply for having a big family that I can share these memories with.

Thanksgiving Day in Canada is on the second Monday of October. That makes a long holiday, a perfect time to go camping, learn how to make a pie, simply to share the day or weekend with friends, family and delicious turkey! So today we are going to a friend’s house. My friend Nori is an amazing home cook! She is also great at drawing and painting as well as the photography!

I have never prepared a turkey for Thanksgiving!!  May be today I’ll have a chance to learn and experience the process.

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