For Costa Ricans the prospect of Thanksgiving comes as second nature. It is included in daily conversations upon meeting (Como le fue…bien, gracias a Dios), or when speaking about work (Yo tengo mucho brete, gracias a Dios). The times when the phrase gracias a Dios (thanks be to God) is used are numerous, and, therefore, embedded into the culture itself.
As expats from the United States pave deeper and deeper inroads into the heart and soul of this Costa Rican life, the desire to be at both the place of origin and the present home become palpable. There are plenty of opportunities for expats to get a taste of home while here in Costa Rica. Many of the hotels here in Costa Rica will cater Thanksgiving events on or around November 28th. You can find turkeys in markets like Auto Mercado, Walmart and PriceSmart, along with the standard fixin’s for your turkey dinners (i.e. cranberry sauce, potatoes for mashing, brown sugar carrots, green bean casserole etc.).
There are also a number of restaurants that hold thanksgiving festivities in various places. Some of these restaurants may not cater the meal in the same fashion as what is considered traditional, but even that term “Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner,” is up for debate in many different locations of the United States. Just ask someone in Louisiana what Thanksgiving dinner is and you will be very surprised by the answer.
It is somewhere between the two pathways to showing appreciation for home, hearth and Providence; that of the immediate and daily Thanksgiving of Costa Rican people, and the time honored tradition of Thanksgiving as first begun by the native peoples and the pilgrims so near to that now famous rock in the sea, that the two cultures can form crossroads of cultural expression. The Costa Rica that seeks to say, “Thanks,” for the daily Providence, and the United States that seeks to allocate a day from which to celebrate the harvest are not so different.
So when you are sitting down to your big turkey dinner, or maybe casado con pollo, bistec o pescado, remember that thanks you may find yourself giving is that same thanks of the culture you are living in. It might come in a different package. It may not even seem the same at first, but rest assured that it’s a Thanksgiving that merits all the enthusiasm which is poured into it from Costa Rican or expat alike.