Asian American Thanksgiving

It feels like Thanksgiving was just yesterday, but that may be due to the fact that I am still digesting and coming out of my food coma.  That’s not just me right?

You might be wondering, do Asian Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?

Short Answer is yes, but we celebrate it in what seem like strange and very asian ways.  Celebrating thanksgiving for Asian Americans has become a time for family gathering and to show gratitude for being able to come to the US and have very different lives.  We celebrate and inject our very complicated identities and highlight diversity and otherness.  Being half Filipino, my family will find any opportunity to get together and eat, so of course thanksgiving is a natural fit.  What is interesting is because our family is so large, each family usually does their own small thanksgiving first (everyone is also still invited to those) and then we do one giant one all together (almost 60 of us).  Sometimes this happens in the same day so there is a lot of feasting going on.  I have personally started eating at 10 am and made my way through 5 different houses before the final get together and let’s just say it is a battle.  Yes it sounds glorious, but also completely unnecessary 😂.  Just to check that this wasn’t only my family that had strange traditions, I spoke with some Asian American friends and coworkers on what their families do during the holiday and have come up with quite an interesting list from a few different nationalities with traditional and different ways of celebrating.

Filipino Thanksgiving:

  • Turkey of course
  • Popeye’s chicken (Fried chicken is a staple at family gatherings)
  • Orange Chicken or some sort of Chinese food
  • Steamed rice
  • Spaghetti no matter what the celebration is (bonus points if there is cut up hot dogs in it)
  • Seafood, usually steamed crab, or fried Tilapia
  • The usual filipino foods: Pancit, Lumpia, Sisig, various Filipino deserts
  • Leftovers: Turkey Lumpia
  • Karaoke

Hong Kong:

  • All night Hot Pot
  • Dim sum in the morning
  • Family playing Mahjong and singing Karaoke


  • Black Friday shopping for the thrill of getting up early, standing in line, and hunting for deals to bring gifts back to Asia.
  • Asian twists on leftovers: Turkey fried rice, turkey bone soup. Just use the turkey in any way possible after thanksgiving.


  • Finding great deals on tech products
  • Fried Chicken
  • Roast Pig
  • Chashua
  • Baked Fish
  • Sushi


  • Galbi Jim
  • Kimchi
  • Japchae
  • Mandu (dumplings)

For Asian Americans, Thanksgiving has become just as much a part of us as any of our traditions, and most likely will continue to be celebrated by us.  The celebration of the holiday shows the story of assimilation many immigrants went to in order to fit into the American culture, but at the same time the diversity that makes us who we are.  It is a time for family, a time to give thanks that we were able to immigrate to the United States, and most importantly a time to not just stuff a turkey, but to stuff our faces.

I would love to hear some of your Thanksgiving family traditions that you might think are weird or different so please feel free to let me know what your family does for the holiday.

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