What's up, Europe? The expat's Thanksgiving edition

Visitors purchase Gluehwein, or mulled wine, at a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany. Americans may be stuffing themselves with turkey on Thanksgiving, but what about Americans on the other side of the pond? In Germany, one expat is waiting for the mulled wine.

It's easy to forget about world issues as you gather around the dinner table with family and friends to cook and share turkey and cranberry sauce. But how does the day shape up for Americans abroad? We called up Matt Smith, who works for a travel company in Edinburgh, Scotland, and former Marketplace reporter Caitlan Carroll in Frankfurt, Germany. 

Both have plans to celebrate with a holiday feast, and to introduce the meal to a few of their non-American friends. 

For Smith, the holiday season in Scotland is shaping up to look pretty similar to that in the U.S. -- his local Starbucks started selling pumpkin spice flavors this year, for the first time. Still, he's a bit sad.

"I'm kind of bummed actually," says Smith. "I have no family get-together scheduled. But my wife and I are going to have a little Thanksgiving."

Smith says he is going to introduce his co-workers to an American Thanksgiving next month. One topic that might come up for discussion at the dinner table is the debate over independence for Scotland.

"Pretty much any news story has to do with the independence vote," says Smith.

Meanwhile Carroll is planning to attend a Thanksgiving dinner party, thrown by a reporter at the Wall Street Journal in Frankfurt. She says that even though the day after Thanksgiving doesn't have much meaning for Germans, it's only a week away until the start of the Christmas market season.

"That's sort of what Thanksgiving means to me here is that I know in about a week you're going to have all of the different Christmas market stalls open. There will be Glühwein for sale, Christmas ornaments -- so that's really when the holiday shopping gets started," says Carroll. "There's a readiness for the holiday and the stores are stocking up even though they're not actually putting things at discount yet."

Carroll says there is still a lot of talk in Europe about the debt crisis, but among her friends and people that she runs into on the street -- "people have hit their euro crisis threshold and they're not really talking about it day to day."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.


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