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Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 9:45am

Project Xpat: A Seoul Food Holiday

Updated: 1 year ago.
Jessica Osborne, in green sweater, celebrates Thanksgiving with friends in Seoul.

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is more about people than pumpkin pie.

And for many Americans observing the special day in other countries since pumpkin pie can be hard to come by the people around them play a more prominent role.

In South Korea, Jessica Osborne plans to spend her second Thanksgiving abroad surrounded by friends. "Thanksgiving in Seoul is definitely a unique experience," she says, "especially if you aren't in the military. ... You're kind of left to your own abilities in a country that doesn't serve mash potatoes at KFC, doesn't sell a full turkey at the grocery store, and cranberry jelly where am I supposed to find that?"

Somehow, says Jessica, an elementary school teacher from Texas, many expats in Seoul "find themselves gathering together and inviting Korean friends to a Thanksgiving dinner made of fried rice, kimchi, homemade mashed potatoes, hot dogs, turkey if someone has a Costco membership and if there happens to be, by the grace of God, pumpkin pie you can be sure there will be a celebration."

But, she says, the true meaning of Thanksgiving overseas is something else. "It's the moment you are sitting on the floor in a crowded, one-bedroom apartment that it hits you: It doesn't matter if there is cranberry, turkey or pie. Because sitting on that floor laughing together is what makes the holiday perfect being with those you are thankful for "

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We hope American expatriates will share photos of Thanksgiving celebrations and tables and gatherings from around the world. Please send them to us on Thanksgiving Day and over the long holiday weekend at protojournalist@npr.org or post them using the hashtag #nprexpat. We will display as many as we can.

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