Saudade: News from and for the Brazilian community/Notícias de e para a comunidade brasileira

Happy Thanksgiving

Members of the tribe sharing about life with visitors at Plymoth Plantation. — Larissa De Oliveira

A tradução deste artigo se encontra no final da versão em inglês

If you haven’t attended elementary schools in the U.S., chances are you don’t know about Plimoth Plantation yet (generally the students in the primary grades visit the site). I didn’t know anything about it until about four years ago, when I move to the Island. I have been on a mission to visit important sites that represent the beginning of American history, and New England offers an array of options to dive into history. Something very characteristic of the New England states is the museum towns. These museum towns are replicas of Colonial villages that reconstruct the routine of the first immigrants, to show what life was like from 1620 forward. They are fascinating to visit, and Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth is a relatively close location to visit.

On Nov. 17, given how close we were getting to Thanksgiving, I visited the location with some Brazilian Islanders, including a former student of mine from my years as a Portuguese teacher at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School — her name is Larissa de Oliveira, and she is a gifted photographer. She took all of the pictures you will see on the online version of this column. 

It is always fascinating to me to experience aspects of American history through the eyes of those who are beginning to explore American history and learning English. One of the individuals who visited Plimoth with us, Paulo Henrique, made a comment that resonated with me: “It sounds like America has always appealed to people seeking a new way of life, and it represents freedom to many.” 

Much like a lot of the Brazilian Islanders, my first references of American culture were through American TV shows and movies. I remember learning about Thanksgiving for the first time by watching “Dawson’s Creek.”

Despite being a date that usually reminds us of the U.S., Thanksgiving is also celebrated in other countries, such as Canada, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands. The date of the celebration is not the same in all countries, but the reasons are. The way to celebrate is another point that may vary according to the culture of each country. Watching the scenes of movies and series, we can see that it is an important holiday in the U.S., always full of food, and usually celebrated with family. 

Thanksgiving is a holiday where people have an opportunity to pause and reflect on the good things that happened to them and their dear ones throughout the year. The tradition of commemorating the date arose in the northeastern U.S., where Christian festivals were organized in thanksgiving for the good harvests held during the year. Over time, other customs were incorporated into the celebrations.

To celebrate in style, then, various events take place in the country. People can watch the Macy’s Parade broadcast by the TV network NBC — which is a hallmark of the holiday, in my opinion — enjoy the extensive menu of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner made up of fall vegetables, cranberry sauce, and turkey, and watch an after-meal football game (the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys have been playing since 1934). 

Over the years, the holiday has had its date changed several times. Currently, in the U.S., it is celebrated every last Thursday of the month of November. 

As the song “The Christmas Waltz” says, this is that time of the year that the world falls in love. This is the season that hopefully can allow us all to spend time with the ones we love, celebrate life, give thanks, pause, extend our hands to the ones who need might need our help. 

I hope all Islanders enjoy their Thanksgiving in whichever way brings joy to their hearts. For me, aside from time with family, it might be time to rewatch “Dawson’s Creek” and “Gilmore Girls,” and be thankful for Netflix.