Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Culture Alert: American Thanksgiving Holiday
One of my cross-cultural roles is to explain global customs, traditions, and expectations to others. This is a note to Korean teams on the upcoming American Thanksgiving. Most often, I discuss popular trends and less know aspects.
Since global teams read this Blog, if you would like to add a comment, please do so....
Dear Korean Teams,
I'm a strong advocate that learning about another
culture is key to better cross-cultural understanding.
Here are some insights into American culture.
Many Koreans, especially those on global teams, are
familiar with American Thanksgiving. Like Chuseok, it
is a family-focused holiday. Every year it occurs on
a Thursday in late November. This year most American
business, schools, and government will be closed
November 22 and 23.
What you may not know…
1) To most Americans, Thanksgiving mean food, lots of
Roast turkey, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes,
cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie are traditional
What you may not know is that some
folks now deep fry their turkeys, especially in the
American South, the burbs, and rural areas. It's very tasty, too.
But... The deep fryers full of hot grease often explode in flame. Every year
hundreds of homes catch fire at Thanksgiving.
Americans also include other ethnic foods as part of
the meal. For example Italian-Americans usual include
lasagna or other pasta dishes.
Across the United States, Americans tend to overeat.
In fact, many people border on gluttony. When I was
young, my family ate, ate, and ate—the meal taking
hours. After we took a break, we resumed with
dessert—apple and pumpkin pies topped with two scoops
of ice cream.
Finally, for several days after the holiday, families
eat leftovers—turkey with hot gravy, turkey
sandwiches, and turkey soup.
2) To most Americans, Thanksgiving is the launch of
the Holiday shopping season
This tradition reached back decades when Macy
Department Stores’ main location (Herald Square) in
New York City opened their doors following the huge
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Today malls and
shopping centers across America open their doors at
5am on the Friday after Thanksgiving. (Starbucks will
open at 4am to accommodate early morning shoppers).
To most Americans, the upcoming Friday is called BLACK
FRIDAY. Some feel it is due to the hectic traffic
conditions as millions of consumers head to
stores—not to mention, the parking, pushing,
shoving, and even fighting over the latest toy or
Actually, the term BLACK FRIDAY is used by the retail
industry. It’s when many retail stores begin to show
a profit and move out of the Red (loss) and into the
You may want to wish your American teams and friends
“Happy Thanksgiving.” If so, many will leave work
early on Wednesday…so email them today! They will
appreciate the thought.