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By Felicity Clarke, Contributing Reporter

The traditional Thanksgiving Dinner spread, photo by Zeetz Jones/Flickr Creative Commons License.
The traditional Thanksgiving Dinner spread, photo by Zeetz Jones/Flickr Creative Commons License.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Carnival stands as Brazil’s great national holiday, but for all the music, dancing and dazzling spectacle it does fall short on one important holiday criteria: there’s no focus on food.

In contrast, Thanksgiving, the major US national holiday that will be celebrated this Thursday, has food as one of its central tenets, if not the central tenet since its origins lay in the thankfulness of the English settlers being able to eat and therefore survive the winter due to the help of the Native Americans.

Although historically Thanksgiving was full of Christian rhetoric, it’s now considered a secular holiday and one of the most important for any American, for in his proclamation of October 3rd 1863 Abraham Lincoln invited his fellow citizens “in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving”.

Some of The American Society of Rio's board and spouses at the Consular Reception on July 2, 2009, photo provided by AmSoc.
Some of The American Society of Rio's board and spouses at the Consular Reception on July 2, 2009, photo provided by AmSoc.

For those Americans here in Rio, the American Society of Rio de Janeiro’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner is a perfect way to mark the traditions and celebrate. For over twenty years the Society has organized a special Thanksgiving event, providing the US community in Rio with an opportunity to gather, give thanks, and feast on a menu of traditional delights.

And this year’s event promises to be another highlight in the events calendar. Held at the Marriott Hotel in Copacabana Thursday November 26th, the event will start with a rooftop cocktail followed by a home-away-from-home Thanksgiving banquet with all the trimmings.

It’s an important meal filled with traditional culinary-pleasures that, although evolved over time, go back to what’s widely considered the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621: succulent roast turkey, mashed sweet potatos, herb filled stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy and pumpkin pie are all essentials. It’s a comfort meal that doesn’t lend itself to a jog on Copacabana beach afterward, but rather to lengthy after dinner relaxing in the company of family and friends.

Actually, family and friends and the clue in the name is what Thanksgiving is all about, “Thanksgiving is a time when everyone goes home to be with family and friends. It’s also a time to reflect and to be grateful for what you have” says Lindsay Duval, President of American Society of Rio de Janeiro. “The American Society’s Thanksgiving event is an opportunity for anyone in Rio to celebrate the holiday and feel part of the community. For those who are here and can’t be with their family, the society acts like a second family”.

With a history of providing a special celebration and with the promise of a full traditional feast in a warm, family focused and friendly environment, this Thursday’s event at the Marriott looks set to be the best place to gather, give thanks and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday on Carnival territory.

All inclusive tickets for AMSOC member adults R$100, children 3-12 R$50, children 13-17 R$80. Tickets for non-member adults R$125, children 3-12 R$60, children 13-17 R$90. For more information contact events@amsocrio.org.

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