How Does Germany Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Thank you for your interest in learning about how Germany celebrates Thanksgiving! In this post, I’ll be guiding you through the different aspects of Thanksgiving in Germany, including the history, traditions, food, events, and more.

Whether you’re an expat living in Germany or simply curious about how Thanksgiving is celebrated in other parts of the world, this post will provide you with a comprehensive overview of how the holiday is observed in Germany.

History of Thanksgiving in Germany

Thanksgiving is a holiday that originated in North America, but it has also been celebrated in Germany for many years. The tradition of celebrating a harvest festival dates back to ancient times, and it has been an important part of German culture for centuries.

The modern celebration of Thanksgiving in Germany has its roots in the early 17th century, when Protestant refugees from Salzburg, Austria, settled in the town of Berchtesgaden in Bavaria. These refugees brought with them the tradition of celebrating a harvest festival, which eventually evolved into the modern-day Thanksgiving.

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated in many parts of Germany, with customs and traditions that are unique to each region. From parades and feasts to gift-giving and charity events, Thanksgiving has become a beloved holiday in Germany that brings people together to give thanks and celebrate the harvest season.

Thanksgiving Traditions in Germany

When it comes to Thanksgiving traditions in Germany, there are some similarities and differences compared to the United States. In Germany, the holiday is not widely celebrated as it is in the US, but it has gained popularity in recent years among expats and international students.

One of the most common traditions is to gather with friends and family and have a meal together, usually featuring turkey or other roasted meat, alongside side dishes like potatoes, vegetables, and gravy. Another tradition is to decorate the table with autumnal colors, such as oranges, yellows, and browns, and use candles or other festive decorations.

Thanksgiving Food in Germany

Germany has its own unique take on Thanksgiving food, incorporating both traditional American dishes and German specialties. Some of the most popular Thanksgiving dishes in Germany include roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole.

In addition to these classic American dishes, Germans also serve a variety of their own traditional foods during Thanksgiving. One of the most popular German dishes served during the holiday is sauerkraut, which is made from fermented cabbage and is typically served as a side dish to the main meal.

Another popular German Thanksgiving dish is Kartoffelklöße, which are large dumplings made from potatoes and served with gravy. These dumplings are a favorite among Germans and are often served during other holidays and celebrations as well.

For dessert, Germans often serve their own traditional pastries such as Apfelstrudel, which is a sweet, flaky pastry filled with apples and cinnamon. Other popular German Thanksgiving desserts include Black Forest cake, stollen, and Lebkuchen, which are gingerbread cookies.

Overall, the combination of American and German dishes makes for a delicious and unique Thanksgiving feast in Germany. Whether you’re celebrating with friends and family or exploring the country as an expat, be sure to try some of these tasty dishes and embrace the German take on this beloved holiday.

Popular Thanksgiving Recipes in Germany

Thanksgiving is a special occasion that brings family and friends together to enjoy a delicious meal. In Germany, Thanksgiving is celebrated with a mix of traditional American dishes and German classics. Here are some popular Thanksgiving recipes in Germany:


Roasted turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving table in Germany, just like in the United States. Germans typically stuff their turkey with a mixture of breadcrumbs, herbs, and onions, and serve it with gravy made from the drippings.


Potatoes are a staple in German cuisine and are often served at Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, or potato dumplings are all popular choices.

Red Cabbage

Red cabbage, also known as Rotkohl or Blaukraut, is a classic German side dish that is often served at Thanksgiving. The cabbage is braised with vinegar, sugar, and apples, giving it a sweet and tangy flavor.


Sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage dish that is popular in Germany. It is often served as a side dish at Thanksgiving and pairs well with roasted meats.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is a traditional American dessert that has become increasingly popular in Germany in recent years. Germans often put their own spin on the recipe by adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

These are just a few of the many popular Thanksgiving recipes in Germany. Whether you’re celebrating with family and friends or as an expat, there are plenty of delicious dishes to enjoy.

German Thanksgiving Desserts

Thanksgiving in Germany is a relatively new tradition, but that hasn’t stopped Germans from creating their own unique desserts to celebrate the holiday. While traditional American desserts like pumpkin pie are sometimes served, Germans often incorporate local ingredients and flavors to create their own delicious desserts.

One popular German Thanksgiving dessert is Streuselkuchen, which is a crumbly cake made with butter, sugar, and flour. It’s often topped with fruit like apples or plums, and sometimes includes a layer of custard or cream.

Another traditional German dessert that’s popular during Thanksgiving is Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, also known as Black Forest cake. This decadent dessert features layers of chocolate cake, cherries, and whipped cream, all topped off with chocolate shavings and more cherries.

Lebkuchen, or gingerbread, is also a common German treat during the holiday season. These spiced cookies come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are often decorated with icing or candy.

Finally, Rote Grütze is a delicious berry dessert that’s popular throughout Germany. It’s made by cooking a mixture of berries and fruit in sugar water until it becomes a thick, syrupy sauce. It’s usually served cold with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

So if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving in Germany, be sure to try one (or all!) of these delicious German desserts to add a local twist to your holiday celebration.

Thanksgiving Decorations in Germany

Thanksgiving decorations in Germany are a beautiful blend of traditional and modern styles. Germans celebrate Thanksgiving in their own unique way, and their decorations reflect this. From rustic centerpieces to colorful wreaths, Thanksgiving decor in Germany is sure to impress.

One of the most popular Thanksgiving decorations in Germany is the cornucopia. Also known as a “horn of plenty,” this decorative object is typically filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables. It symbolizes abundance and gratitude, two values that are central to the holiday.

Another popular Thanksgiving decoration in Germany is the pumpkin. Whether carved into a jack-o’-lantern or used as a centerpiece, pumpkins are a staple of fall decor in Germany. They are often used in combination with other autumnal items, such as acorns and leaves.

Wreaths are also a common Thanksgiving decoration in Germany. These can be made from a variety of materials, including dried flowers, twigs, and feathers. They are often hung on doors and walls to welcome guests into the home.

Finally, table decorations are an important part of Thanksgiving in Germany. Tablecloths, napkins, and placemats are often chosen to reflect the colors of autumn, such as orange, red, and brown. Centerpieces may include candles, flowers, or seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Overall, Thanksgiving decorations in Germany are a beautiful and meaningful way to celebrate the holiday. Whether you prefer a rustic or modern style, there are plenty of options to choose from. So gather your loved ones and enjoy a festive and welcoming atmosphere this Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Events in Germany

Thanksgiving is not a public holiday in Germany, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it. There are various Thanksgiving events held in different parts of Germany that you can attend to experience the American tradition.

The most popular Thanksgiving event in Germany is the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in Berlin, which takes place on the first Saturday of October. This parade attracts thousands of spectators each year, who come to see the colorful floats, marching bands, and dance troupes.

Another popular event is the Thanksgiving feast at the Hard Rock Cafe in Munich. The feast features a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and all the fixings, as well as live music and entertainment.

If you’re in Frankfurt, you can attend the annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Marriott Hotel. This event includes a buffet-style dinner with a range of dishes, including turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie.

Other Thanksgiving events in Germany include potluck dinners organized by expat groups, Thanksgiving-themed parties at American bars, and Thanksgiving meals at international schools.

Whether you’re an American living in Germany or just looking to experience a different culture’s take on Thanksgiving, attending one of these events is a great way to celebrate the holiday and meet new people.

Traveling to Germany During Thanksgiving

If you’re considering traveling to Germany during Thanksgiving, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First and foremost, it’s important to note that Thanksgiving is not a German holiday, so you won’t find the same level of celebration as you would in the United States or Canada. However, Germany is still a wonderful destination to visit during the holiday season, with plenty of festive activities and events to enjoy.

One of the biggest draws of visiting Germany during Thanksgiving is the Christmas markets. Many cities and towns across the country host these markets in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and they offer a wide variety of food, drink, and handmade crafts. It’s the perfect place to pick up some unique souvenirs for yourself or for friends and family back home.

Another fun activity to consider during your trip to Germany is visiting one of the many Christmas-themed amusement parks. For example, Europa-Park, located in Rust, is transformed into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, complete with ice skating, sledding, and even a visit from Santa Claus.

When it comes to travel logistics, it’s important to keep in mind that November is typically a shoulder season for tourism in Germany. This means that you may be able to find better deals on flights and accommodations than you would during the peak summer months or around Christmas and New Year’s.

Overall, while Thanksgiving may not be a major holiday in Germany, it’s still a great time to visit this beautiful country and experience all that it has to offer during the festive holiday season.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Germany as an Expat

As an expat living in Germany, celebrating Thanksgiving can be a bit challenging. While the holiday is not widely celebrated in Germany, there are still ways to make the day feel special and festive.

One option is to host a Thanksgiving dinner at your home and invite friends and fellow expats to join you. Many grocery stores in Germany now carry traditional Thanksgiving foods such as turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, so it’s possible to prepare a complete Thanksgiving meal. You can also ask guests to bring a dish to share, which can help create a sense of community and shared celebration.

Another option is to attend a Thanksgiving event hosted by a local expat group or American organization. These events often include a traditional Thanksgiving meal, as well as activities such as crafts, games, and live music. This can be a great way to meet new people and connect with other expats who may be missing their families and traditional celebrations.

If you’re unable to host or attend a Thanksgiving event, you can still make the day feel special by creating your own traditions. This could include taking a walk in a park or nature reserve, cooking a special meal at home, or watching a classic Thanksgiving movie with friends.

While celebrating Thanksgiving in Germany may require a bit of effort, it’s worth it to keep traditions alive and connect with others who share your cultural background. With a bit of planning and creativity, you can create a memorable and enjoyable Thanksgiving celebration, no matter where you are in the world.

Thanksgiving Gift Ideas for Friends and Family in Germany

Finding the perfect gift for your loved ones during Thanksgiving can be challenging, especially if you are in Germany. While Thanksgiving is not a traditional German holiday, there are still plenty of thoughtful and unique gifts you can give to your friends and family. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. German-themed Gifts

Germany is famous for its beer, sausages, and bread. You can surprise your loved ones with a gift basket containing some of the best German beers, sausages, and bread. Alternatively, you can buy a cookbook featuring traditional German recipes and ingredients.

2. Personalized Gifts

Personalized gifts are always a great way to show your loved ones that you care. You can customize mugs, t-shirts, and other items with their names or photos. You can also make a photo album or scrapbook filled with memories of your time together.

3. Thanksgiving-themed Gifts

While Thanksgiving is not traditionally celebrated in Germany, you can still find plenty of Thanksgiving-themed gifts online. For example, you can buy a turkey-shaped serving dish, Thanksgiving-themed kitchen towels, or a decorative cornucopia.

4. Gift Cards

If you are unsure about what to get your loved ones, you can always opt for a gift card. Many online retailers and local shops offer gift cards that can be used for a wide variety of products and services. This allows your loved ones to choose something that they truly want or need.

5. Charitable Donations

Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks and giving back. Consider making a charitable donation in your loved one’s name to a local charity or organization. This can be a meaningful gift that helps others in need.

In conclusion, there are many thoughtful and unique gift ideas that you can give to your friends and family in Germany during Thanksgiving. Whether you opt for a German-themed gift, a personalized gift, a Thanksgiving-themed gift, a gift card, or a charitable donation, the most important thing is to show your loved ones how much you care.

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