Thanksgiving Traditions in a New and Diverse Peoria

by Tamara Zachman

I’m not sure Henri De Tonti expected the diversity that would be Peoria, Illinois today. French explorer Henri De Tonti established the city of Peoria in 1691, named after the local Peoria Indian tribe.

Today sees a very culturally diverse Peoria, with 9 Fortune 500 companies in the Greater Peoria area. Which has seen a rise in Expatriate employees, from all over the world.

So, for those of us who are not citizens of the United States of America, the holiday of Thanksgiving can be quite a quandary.

When one thinks of our National holiday of Thanksgiving we think of Turkey and/or Ham, stuffing, roasted vegetables, cranberries, mashed potatoes, gravy. For dessert you might have Pumpkin or Apple Pie.

Now we do have many different modified versions of our American holiday, depending on area of the United States where you might live. Some areas may use Duck, Goose, Seasonal wildfowl, venison, rabbit and there are other areas along the East and West coast you might see Lobsters, Eels, Mussels, and Oysters.

The beginnings of our Thanksgiving traditions could be called “THE ORIGINAL FARM TO TABLE” dinner, where pioneers ate “This is what we like to eat” to “This is what we have to eat”

(Plymouth Plantations) Or if you like, Forest, Ocean and Lake to Table.

Todays National Thanksgiving is a blend of our First Thanksgiving with the Wampanoag Indian Tribe and a blend of successful “harvest festivals” held throughout the Continental Europe and the Puritan Thanksgiving of a very humble affair of prayer and feasting. Whether you serve it family style or on a buffet.

Harvest festivals have been held by the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians and many other cultures throughout history.

So that brings me to the Thanksgiving of today and how many of the Expatriates living in Peoria have balanced our Traditional Thanksgiving add in a little of their own  culture. In the Lebanese culture they may add hummus, kibbe, stuffed grape leaves, meat and spinach pies. The Asian population could add dim sum, banhmi, to curry’s, sticky rice the list can go on and on. So make it yours!

Another fun event happening is the Pre-Thanksgiving party with friends who may not have family in the area. In this situation you might want to have everyone bring their favorite dish with you providing the main dish.

So enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration however you decide to, with the dishes that remind you of your family and even home.

So how are you going to decorate, all out or simple? Enjoy your day with your family, don’t make yourself crazy prepping for the day. But if you like to decorate your tables here are a few ideas.