How To Celebrate Thanksgiving in Madrid


It’s that time of year again and whether it’s your first year living in Madrid or your tenth sometimes we just want a little taste of home. And if you’re not from the US (like me) or Canada (yes, I know Thanksgiving is in October) maybe you just want to see what all the fuss is about and share this day with your new (or not so new) friends.

Being in Spain can definitely make having that traditional Thanksgiving Day feeling a little more difficult. Especially while being in the Teach and Learn Program. With Thanksgiving falling on a Thursday, many of us have worked all day, may have to work in the morning, and we of course have class on Friday (yippee!). So hosting and making an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner may have to wait. BUT! It’s not impossible. We all have that friend that just loves Thanksgiving, loves to cook and loves to spend time with those close to them especially on a day such as this… GREAT! THANKS! HELP ME! It all just takes a little more planning and this is doable. Plan your turkey, where you’ll get your ingredients (it’s not always so easy to find those Thanksgiving staples we all know and love), and enjoy the process of creating the closest thing you can to what you know back home (it may just end up even better than you expected). Don’t worry! You can do it! I believe in you!

However! You do not have to plan a perfect meal to enjoy your Thanksgiving. Maybe cooking isn’t your thing. Maybe you don’t have a stove big enough for a turkey, maybe you don’t have a stove at all. Yeah… that’s a definite possibility. There are plenty of restaurants that offer Thanksgiving meals… at a price. Either dine in and treat yo’self or take it “para llevar”. But hey… at least you don’t have to do all the work… am I right?! More info to follow on this.

Even better for students on the *ahem* broker side… pot lucks! This can be done with any type of company you’d like. You can do it with just some of your Canadian and American friends and each bring your favorite traditional dish. This could work out even better since all that tender loving care will be put into the dish to make it as good as it can be (at least we can hope our friends love us that much). Or put some Spanish flavor into it. Invite your new coworkers, roommates, or friends from Spain to share in the festivities and bring their own typical holiday dishes (any holiday works). You can taste and experience a part of Spanish culture while sharing yours. And as the international students that we are… not everyone will be just from a Thanksgiving celebrating country or Spain… there will be people wanting to participate in this traditional feast from all over the world. Take advantage of this! Experience something new. And you know what almost always stays the same? Alcohol. Whether you drink or not… it’s just a fact…

Take time to FaceTime, Skype, Whatsapp, etc. with your family and friends back home, too! This can help with homesickness (if there even is any, we all experience these holidays in a different way). Share your new experiences and laugh about what may have gone wrong in the process. No matter what you do, the most important thing is that you are doing what feels right to you. Surround yourself with people you care about and nothing can go wrong.

Take a look below for some suggestions on where to find ingredients or where to go out!

Where to Buy Your Food For Home: (Start Planning Early, Folks)

  • Check out your local Carrefour, Lidl, or Corte Inglés for a turkey and whatever else you may be able to find, although it may not be much. Ask around! Practice your Spanish and ask the butcher if you can order a turkey in advance. You may just get lucky and find a bird waiting for you at the store. Today a friend of mine said he saw a turkey at Carrefour for 4 euros / kilo and it was 6 kilos! That’s a huge turkey and not too expensive, either, if you split it.
  • If you can’t find a turkey or aren’t that much of a planner you can by pechuga de pavo (not lonchas de pavo meant for sandwiches) and do something nice with that OR just get a roasted chicken. No matter what, you’ll still be satisfied.
  • If you MUST HAVE THE TURKEY, check out some of your local carnicerías (butchers) and ask them if you can order one in advance. Just make sure they know how you want it, because I’ve read some stories about people getting a whole turkey, feet and all.
  • Or you know… just get someone else to cook it (check out restaurants below)
  • Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find everything you’re looking for. You may have to make variations of your typical, store bought side dishes and that’s okay! Do your best!
  1. Restaurants (call to dine in or see if you can order food to pick up)

Enjoy this day. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy your life. We have a lot to be thankful for.

Erin Glayzer Alumni Instituto Franklin – UAH.

Study abroad in Spain Fall 2015

MA in Bilingual & Multicultural Education 2016-2017

MA in International Education 2017-2018


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