Does Mexico Celebrate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, a holiday deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric of the United States and Canada, symbolizes gratitude, family gatherings, and sumptuous feasts. Rooted in historical events and celebrated with distinctive traditions, it predominantly marks a time for reflection and communal thankfulness. The holiday, observed on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and the second Monday of October in Canada, raises an intriguing question about its recognition beyond these borders. Given the profound geographical proximity and cultural interconnections with the United States, one may wonder: Does Mexico celebrate Thanksgiving?

Historical Background of Thanksgiving

To understand the context of Thanksgiving in Mexico, it’s essential to first delve into the holiday’s origins and its evolution in North America. In the United States, Thanksgiving traces back to the early 17th century, commemorating a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English Pilgrims of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people. This event is often romanticized as a moment of cooperation and mutual respect between European settlers and Native Americans, though the historical realities are complex and marked by subsequent conflicts.

In Canada, Thanksgiving has different roots, related to the traditions of European explorers and settlers, giving thanks for safe journeys and bountiful harvests in their new land. Celebrated since the late 16th century, the Canadian version of Thanksgiving predates the American one but shares the core themes of gratitude and harvest celebration. The variation in dates and historical narratives between the two countries highlights the holiday’s adaptability to different cultural and historical contexts.

Does Mexico Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is not recognized as a national holiday in Mexico, nor is it commonly celebrated by the Mexican populace. Nonetheless, American and Canadian expatriates residing in Mexico often observe the holiday, hosting traditional meals and gatherings.

Tourist-centric areas and some restaurants also cater to the holiday spirit by offering Thanksgiving specials or meals.

For those visiting Mexico during the Thanksgiving period, it’s likely that Thanksgiving celebrations can be found in hotels, resorts, or local eateries that cater to American visitors.

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How Does Mexico Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Regarding how Thanksgiving is observed in Mexico, the holiday, known as Día de Acción de Gracias, is not celebrated as a cultural federal holiday across Latin America with the same historical roots as in the United States. However, some families in Mexico adopt a form of celebration that includes a feast featuring turkey, tamales, and mole, drawing parallels to the traditional American Thanksgiving meal.

In broader Latin America, countries like Colombia and Venezuela may emphasize the religious aspect of gratitude through Thanksgiving Masses, followed by feasts. Puerto Rico has its unique way of expressing gratitude, with people giving Thanksgiving cards or gifts that say “Gracias.”

Latino traditions also include creating altars with photos of deceased loved ones and items they enjoyed, reflecting a broader practice of remembrance and gratitude. Activities such as playing football or going on nature hikes are ways some families choose to spend the day, emphasizing family time and relaxation. Volunteering at soup kitchens or food banks is another way some choose to observe the spirit of the holiday.

Although Thanksgiving does not hold the same national significance in Mexico as other holidays like Cinco de Mayo, the underlying themes of gratitude and family resonate with some individuals and communities within Mexico.

When is Thanksgiving Celebrated in Mexico?

Thanksgiving Day in Mexico is observed on the same date as in the United States, which falls on the fourth Thursday of November.

However, as noted earlier, Thanksgiving is not a public holiday in Mexico, and a significant portion of the Mexican population might not recognize the day as Thanksgiving.

Additionally, Canadian expatriates in Mexico celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.

Where to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Mexico?

In Mexico, Thanksgiving can be celebrated in various settings, ranging from tourist hotspots to local communities enriched with American expatriates. Popular destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Los Cabos offer luxurious resorts and restaurants that cater to holiday traditions with special Thanksgiving dinners. 

Major cities such as Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey, known for their vibrant expatriate communities, host a variety of Thanksgiving events, from community gatherings to restaurant specials. International hotels and upscale dining places across Mexico often present Thanksgiving-themed menus, capturing the essence of the holiday. 

For those seeking a more personal touch, specialty stores and bakeries may offer everything from Thanksgiving pies to complete takeout meals, ensuring that even away from home, the spirit of Thanksgiving can be fully embraced. Additionally, social media and expat forums are invaluable resources for uncovering local celebrations and connecting with others looking to share in the tradition, making Mexico a surprisingly welcoming place to celebrate this quintessentially American holiday.

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Celebrating Thanksgiving with Food in Mexico

Celebrating Thanksgiving with Food in Mexico

Though Thanksgiving is not originally a part of Mexican holiday traditions like it is in the United States and Canada, numerous Mexican households and groups have embraced the holiday spirit by incorporating Thanksgiving elements with a distinct Mexican flair into their celebrations.

A Latin American Twist on the Traditional Thanksgiving Feast

A Latino Thanksgiving feast mirrors the celebratory meal familiar in the United States, featuring a spread that typically includes roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes. However, the feast is often enhanced with Latin American-inspired dishes, adding a unique twist to the traditional fare. Attendees might enjoy tamales, empanadas, arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), or meats roasted with rich Latin American herbs and spices, blending the traditional Thanksgiving menu with the vibrant flavors of Latino cuisine.

Late Dinner Traditions

Contrary to the early or conventional dinner times observed during American Thanksgiving, a Latino Thanksgiving meal is usually served later in the evening, around 9 pm. This delay doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of snacks and treats being served continuously from the kitchen; it simply reflects the leisurely pace at which families gather around the dinner table. The delay is partly due to the lively atmosphere of Mexican Thanksgiving celebrations, filled with dancing and joy, making it hard for anyone to want to pause the festivities for dinner.

Can You Find Thanksgiving Food in Mexican Grocery Stores?

In Mexico’s larger supermarkets, such as Walmart, Chedraui, or Costco, it’s possible to find certain Thanksgiving ingredients like canned pumpkin and boxed stuffing mix. However, finding these items can often be challenging. For instance, a search for canned pumpkins in Playa del Carmen a few years ago turned out to be fruitless.

A handy tip for those on the lookout for Thanksgiving essentials in Mexican grocery stores is to purchase them as soon as you spot them, as their availability can be fleeting.

When it comes to ready-made Thanksgiving dishes, such as turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, your search might be more successful at restaurants, specialty shops, or international bakeries. In Playa del Carmen, Das Brot, a German bakery, is known to offer pumpkin pies, though it’s advisable to place your order well in advance.

Personal Stories and Experiences

The essence of Thanksgiving in Mexico, particularly among American expatriates and Mexicans who have embraced the tradition, is best captured through personal stories and experiences. Sarah, an American teacher living in Guadalajara, shares that organizing a Thanksgiving dinner has become an annual tradition for her, where she invites both American and Mexican friends. “It’s a beautiful blend of cultures,” she says, “We have the traditional turkey and stuffing, but also Mexican dishes like mole and tamales. It’s become a day of gratitude that transcends borders.”

Jorge, a Mexican who studied in the U.S. and returned to Mexico City, has also adopted Thanksgiving. He sees it as an opportunity to express gratitude and gather with loved ones, similar to Mexican celebrations. “It’s about the gathering, the sharing of food, and the stories we tell. In that way, it’s not so different from our own traditions,” Jorge reflects.

These anecdotes highlight how Thanksgiving, while not native to Mexican culture, has found a place in the hearts of those who celebrate it, merging with local customs and creating unique, hybrid traditions.

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Top Things to Do in Mexico for Thanksgiving Day

  • Indulge in a feast of traditional Thanksgiving delicacies like turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes.
  • Reach out to family and friends through phone calls, emails, or online communications to express your gratitude for their presence in your life.
  • Participate in community service activities, such as volunteering at local shelters, food banks, or nonprofit organizations, to help prepare and serve meals to those in need, fostering a spirit of thankfulness and community contribution.
  • Seize the chance to immerse yourself in Mexican culture and traditions. Use the holiday as an opportunity to explore and appreciate Mexican customs, including observing Día de Acción de Gracias, learning about Mexico’s rich history, and enjoying traditional Mexican dishes.

The Impact of Globalization on Celebrating Thanksgiving in Mexico

Globalization has played a significant role in the adoption and spread of foreign holidays like Thanksgiving in countries like Mexico. The increasing interconnectedness of the world, facilitated by advancements in technology, travel, and communication, has allowed cultural traditions to cross borders more freely. This global exchange of ideas and traditions has led to the adoption of celebrations such as Thanksgiving, reflecting a broader trend of cultural hybridization.

Role of Social Media, International Travel, and Cultural Exchange

Social media, international travel, and cultural exchange have been instrumental in spreading Thanksgiving traditions to Mexico. Social media platforms allow individuals to share their holiday experiences and traditions with a global audience, inspiring others to adopt these practices. Meanwhile, international travel has enabled people to experience Thanksgiving firsthand, either by visiting the United States during the holiday season or by participating in celebrations abroad. These factors, combined with the ongoing cultural exchange between Mexico and the United States, have contributed to the growing observance of Thanksgiving in Mexico, showcasing the dynamic nature of cultural traditions in an increasingly globalized world.


Thanksgiving in Mexico, though not widely celebrated in the traditional American sense, has carved out its niche among expatriate communities and Mexicans familiar with the holiday. It serves as a poignant example of how cultural exchange can introduce and establish global traditions within diverse cultures. This blending of customs underscores the universal themes of gratitude, family, and communal feasting, which transcend geographical and cultural boundaries.

The celebration of Thanksgiving in Mexico also emphasizes the importance of respecting and understanding cultural differences while celebrating one’s own traditions. It’s a testament to the fact that, even in a globalized world, traditions can maintain their core values while adapting to new contexts and meanings.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some common questions about “Does Mexico celebrate Thanksgiving?”:

Where can I find traditional Thanksgiving ingredients in Mexico?

Major supermarkets in cities and areas with a high concentration of expatriates often carry Thanksgiving-related ingredients. Look for international or specialty stores for items like turkeys, cranberry sauce, and canned pumpkins.

How can I celebrate Thanksgiving if I’m visiting Mexico?

Check local expatriate forums, social media groups, or international hotels and restaurants for Thanksgiving events. Many communities and businesses host dinners that welcome both locals and visitors.

Any tips for introducing Thanksgiving to my Mexican friends?

Host a dinner and include both traditional Thanksgiving dishes and Mexican cuisine. Share the history and significance of the holiday, emphasizing its themes of gratitude and family, which resonate across cultures. It’s a wonderful opportunity for cultural exchange and understanding.