Fall Traditions: Aljezur’s Sweet Potato Festival and Giving Thanks

It came as a bit of a shock to us, back in 2012 and traveling in Mexico, that there were no outward signs that our favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, was taking place back in the US. Nope. We moved right from the Day-of-the-Dead to Christmas songs in the markets and grocery stores, simple and elaborate Nativity tableaus, and lighted decorations on the streets. That may have been our first clue that we were carrying some ethnocentric baggage with us as we moved from country to country. Over the years, we like to think that we’ve managed to shed some of the weight of those preconceptions as we’ve learned about other traditions and holidays. Interestingly, while mentioning Thanksgiving here in Portugal might get us a blank look, everyone knows exactly what the signs for Black Friday sales mean. It appears some cultural mores cross borders easily.

The weather changes so gradually that there isn’t much to mark the passage of summer to fall to winter in the Algarve. Portugal observes Daylight Saving Time so darkness comes earlier and mornings and evenings require a sweater or light jacket. And, instead of Thanksgiving heralding the holiday season, the Algarve Region has its own time-honored tradition: the annual Festival da Batata-Doce or Sweet Potato Festival. Taking place in nearby Aljezur (population 6,000) over the three-day weekend at the end of each November, the festival features the handicrafts and products of the Algarve and pays tribute to the sweet potato as part of its cultural and culinary history. In fact, the Aljezur Sweet Potato Producers Association goes out of its way to demonstrate that not all sweet potatoes are equal  by guaranteeing Aljezur’s tubers with a Protected Geographical Identification (PGI) stamp on each bag.

 

looking up at the Castle of Aljezur

 

The humble sweet potato is one of the earliest vegetables known to man with depictions of the root vegetable that date to prehistoric times discovered in Peruvian caves. They were among the various new foods that Christopher Columbus brought back to Spain during his voyage of 1492 and the Portuguese explorers are credited with carrying the sweet potato to Africa, India, Indonesia & southern Asia. During our time in the Algarve, I’ve developed quite a liking for the Aljezur sweet potatoes. However, it took a little persuading to convince Richard that we should go to the Sweet Potato Festival as he stubbornly maintains an aversion to the tuber being honored. In the end though, curiosity won out.

 

sweet potato beer and baked goodies

Canned tuna & sardines, cork products, spices and dried fruit

 

As expats, we love discovering festivals and learning about the cultural history of our adopted country. But, we also carry our Thanksgiving traditions in our hearts and each November we practice our own version of gratitude no matter where we are. This is the time of year we miss our son and grandson most and we’re thankful that they’re both happy and healthy. We take stock of our own health and, surprisingly take note of the fact that neither of us have had so much as a cold during the two years we’ve lived in Portugal. As Americans, we’re particularly grateful that we have health care when, for millions back in our country, this basic human right is either absent or under assault. We’re thankful that we have a comfortable home here in Lagos because many of the residents of our former home state of Texas and elsewhere, are still living in hurricane devastated communities, storm-damaged homes and makeshift shelters waiting for help from a government that’s reluctant to throw out more than a few rolls of paper towels. We’re thankful, too that we can safely walk the streets of our adopted country in daylight and after dark, and go into a theater, shopping center, concert hall and church without apprehension. And lastly, lest our love of our home country be questioned because we live as expats and speak freely of our deep concerns for the future of the US, we’re grateful to have come from a country with a rich tradition of welcoming all religions, ethnicities and races. We’re proud to have come from a country that’s provided sanctuary for those fleeing violence and oppressive regimes, offered a helping hand and safety net to our poorest, disabled and elderly and worked together with other nations for a better world for all. Our major contention with those who advocate for the ‘make America great again’ movement is – we happen to think, despite all its shortcomings, it’s always been great.

By Anita Oliver and Richard Nash

 

tile mural of Aljezur and its Castle on the hill

 

59 comments

  • Sweet potatoes are so popular here in Egypt, but I never knew they weren’t native to Africa.. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that doesn’t translate very well but as an expat I’ve missed it a bit less since I stopped eating meat 🙂

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    • We’ve adapted our Thanksgiving celebrations over the years and, once we left the US and started traveling, we’ve found that the day isn’t so much about the food as the sentiments and the friends we share it with. Like just about everyone, until we heard about the Sweet Potato Festival, we’d never really thought about the humble tuber’s history which contained a few surprises. There are certainly lots of great sweet potato recipes available on the internet that I’d love to try and, if you cook a few of those dishes, they’d definitely be a complete meal in themselves!

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  • I only really started eating sweet potatoes when I discovered them being sold baked in their skins at a market in Barcelona. But it’s a new idea to me that you could have them made into beer or cakes – I can imagine they might be rather good!

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    • I totally missed seeing the baked sweet potatoes at the Barcelona markets we visited when we spent a month in the city but I know you’ll agree Karen, there was a lot of competition for delicious things to sample. 🙂 And, while we’re not quite sure about the Tuber Boch beer, we can tell you that the sweet potato side dishes and baked goods are very good!

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  • I have always loved the many fruit and vegetable festivals that go on throughout European towns and villages. Your recount of the sweet potato festival reminds me of truffle, mushroom, and chestnut festivals in the Provence region of France.

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  • This is beautifully written! One thing that could tie Aljezur’s sweet potato festival to Thanksgiving is sweet potato pie. Ever since I got a friend’s family recipe 20 years ago when I moved away from the US (and she gave it to me only because I was leaving the US), sweet potato pie has become our standard Thanksgiving dessert. Where I live in the Netherlands, only one variety of sweet potato is available, and even that one is sometimes hard to find. Nevertheless, the pie is “to die for,” and perhaps “to die from” given how unhealthy it is!

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    • Thank you, Rachel. I love that you’ve chosen to celebrate your own Thanksgiving in the Netherlands and your story of how a treasured recipe and sweet potato pie has become a holiday tradition in your family. It’s interesting that the sweet potato is difficult to find sometimes where you live but then, I think back on my hunt for celery sometimes (which I seem to use a lot of) where I go from grocery store to grocery store here in Lagos. Coming from the US, where everything seems to be available for a price in and out of season, I definitely feel spoiled!

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  • Thanks for the great post, Anita. I have another friend who has been trying to tempt me to come to the Azores and I’ve not yet made it to Portugal. Would definitely love to in the future, as I’ve heard nothing but good things about this welcoming country.

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    • Ah, the Azores! We have yet to visit that part of Portugal although the islands are high on our travel list and we’re tempted to drop everything and go whenever we see a bargain flight. Definitely put them on your list, Doreen but make time for a visit to the mainland (and the Algarve 🙂) too. Everything you’ve heard about Portugal really is true!

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  • I come from the Philippines which, with its Spanish ancestry, also skips Thanksgiving and swoops right on from Nov. 1 to Dec. 25. Come to think of it, it is Christmas when we express all our thanks for life and its greatness, But we also love the sweet potato and should have a Sweet Potato Festival, too. In fact, more than the tuber, camote (the Filipino name for this tuber) tops (youngest leaves) are a staple in most of our recipes! Love the intertwining socio-political commentary!

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    • That’s interesting to know that the leaves are edible, Carol and that the Philippines also have a Sweet Potato Festival. For such a humble vegetable, it’s definitely found its place at the table and in the culture of many countries. We’re so glad you liked our thankful comments at the end of our post. It’s not hard to feel very fortunate with what we have and the choices we have available when we read the news. In fact, it’s easy to become disheartened and feel helpless at some of the things happening in our country and throughout the world. Staying thankful helps somewhat with keeping things in perspective.

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  • As usual, I am late reading my favorite blogs, but I am so glad I saved this post. Sweet potato festival! Woopie. I read your post to Ron, who is the sweet potato king of Ometepe Island. He enjoyed hearing about the history of the sweet potato. About six years ago, a friend asked what she could bring to us when she visited. Ron asked her to smuggle a sweet potato in her suitcase, and life has never been the same since. Ron has harvested bushels of sweet potatoes over the years. No one had ever seen them on Ometepe Island before. They grow surprisingly well here and we have accumulated a long list of sweet potato recipes. Sweet potato pie is my favorite and always a Thanksgiving staple here since we don’t have pumpkins.
    And I truly appreciate how you sneak in the plight of the U.S. in your posts! I have become quite the political wonk since this whole sad state of affairs began. 😜

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    • I’m chuckling Debbie, about the ‘sweet potato king’ and your story of bringing the humble tuber to Ometepe Island. Since the sweet potato has a history that goes back many centuries in Mexioc, Central and South America, I’m really surprised it wasn’t grown on the island. Doubtless, your neighbors and friends enjoy some of your harvest too! The pumpkins grown here are different from the pumpkins available in the US so I’ve been mustering up the courage to try baking something with sweet potato here. Just waiting for the baking ‘itch’ to get me going! 🙂 P.S. We spend so much time each day reading the news, that current events seem to tinge everything we talk about. I’m glad that you appreciate the commentary. It’s hard not to go off the deep end at times, isn’t it?

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  • I’d never heard of the sweet potato fair before. I would certainly go as I love sweet potatoes – in bread, cakes, grilled, chips…
    I think that with or without a Thanksgiving day, those of us who are lucky enough to live in a safe country, have a good job, etc., should be grateful for our good fortune.

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    • It’s amazing to think of all the delicious dishes you can make with sweet potatoes. It kind of reminds me of the years we had a garden or friends who gardened and we’d be presented with heaps of zucchini! And yes, we’ve reflected time and again how fortunate we are and have been to live in countries where we feel both safe and secure, had fulfilling careers and many opportunities. Many times, when we remember what we’re thankful for, we’re able to keep things in perspective in an uncertain world.

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  • We both love sweet potatoes so this festival would have been a slam-dunk for us. Did Richard enjoy it? This post, like all your posts Anita, was beautifully written. We do have much to be thankful for, and that can be acknowledged whether or not we have a special holiday for that purpose. I know you are closely following what is happening back in the US. Now more than ever you are probably grateful for the opportunity to be somewhat removed from the madness.

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    • Richard did enjoy it, LuAnne, especially sampling the multitude of delicious pastries that disguised the loathed ingredient! Like you, we have much to be thankful for and maybe never so much than this year when so much of what we’ve taken for granted as US citizens is under assault and in danger of vanishing. We’ve always been news junkies but it’s sometimes hard to comprehend what we are reading. And yes, we are grateful to be a continent away but it’s a small world anymore. I have to keep in mind the things I’m grateful for and desperately hope that things will change (for the better) soon.

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  • I think my husband would need as much convincing as Richard to attend a sweet potato festival, but it looks like fun. Being away from home and family and traditions on holidays can evoke a variety of emotions. For me, it is Christmas that is most likely to do that. Even Christmases at home can feel a bit strange now because the celebrations have changed as life has changed over the years. I am a Canadian who has been in the U.S. a few times during their Thanksgivings. There are some similarities between the two celebrations, but the U.S. celebration has so many other things going on that it felt very different and a bit odd.

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    • A festival is always fun Donna, no matter what the reason. Over the years, Thanksgiving was our favorite holiday as it was a day spent feasting and playing games with those we love. Now, wherever we are, it’s still a day of much good food but also a fun time shared with new friends from different backgrounds. Sadly, it seems in recent years that Thanksgiving has become a prelude to Black Friday and the holiday frenzy and glut of shopping that passes for the Christmas season anymore. It’s nice to be away from that and celebrating the season in a much simpler way.

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  • Happy belated Thanksgiving! It is so nice to read about all the things you are grateful for. All too often I take my wonderful life for granted.
    I love that you checked out the sweet potato festival. That’s hilarious. Did you try the beer?
    Great post.

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    • Thanks Caroline and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to you also! I think that we are fortunate indeed, not only to have wonderful lives, but to recognize our good fortune. We love checking out the local festivals (even if Richard wasn’t quite sure about the honoree 🙂) but we passed on the Tuber Bock. However, the sweet potato dishes and pastries were delicious!

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  • I just had sweet potatoes at dinner tonight so this post is timely! That sweet potato festival would be great to visit and I was pretty surprised that the Portuguese would recognize Black Friday more than Thanksgiving. When I’m in Portugal I’ll try their sweet potatoes. As for the sweet potato beer? Maybe.

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    • What a coincidence, Jan. 🙂 This summer, I discovered purple sweet potatoes by chance (I think they were imported) and, while they didn’t taste that much different, I loved the pop of color on my plate. You won’t have any problems finding sweet potatoes in the store and I’ll keep an eye out for restaurants that I can recommend who offer them on their menu. And I’m with you about the beer. I didn’t see too many brave souls trying it but … we were there pretty early in the day. For all we know, it could have been a big hit once the party started rolling!

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  • A festival just for sweet potatoes huh? Who’d have thought it. Great post

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  • So glad that you were able to convince Dick to take in the sweet potato festival. We know that he isn’t a big fan of them, but there were plenty of meats and sweets that he could enjoy! We had the wild boar paired with sweet potatoes and it was excellent. Giving thanks and being grateful are always good ways to put life into perspective, regardless of where we happen to be in the world.

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    • There were a lot of great food offerings at the festival (oh those pastries!) and, despite having to be talked into going to the festival, Mr. Finicky really had a great time sampling some of the fare. We missed the wild boar which sounds fabulous but had some other traditional dishes, including (for me) sweet potato chips that were wonderful. And we agree, Tim and Anne, that gratitude keeps everything in perspective. Once you realize how fortunate we are, the problems and worries seem smaller, don’t they?

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  • I loved reading your piece about all that you’re thankful for. Well put! I am a fan of sweet potatoes, and a fan of gratitude, but coming from Australia I didn’t know what Thanksgiving was until I moved to Canada. I happily celebrate with friends if we happen to be in Canada at the time, but never miss it if we’re not. I’ve long joked that Australians don’t give thanks, we just take it for granted 🙂 I guess it has something to do with coming from convict stock. In the beginning we didn’t have much to be thankful for. Did you know that the tradition of Thanksgiving actually originated in Canada?
    Alison

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    • I’m still laughing reading your comment, Alison that “Australians don’t give thanks, we just take it for granted.” I’ve always thought that coming from “convict stock” was a lot more interesting that being descendants from a more pious gene pool. 🙂 I had to go back and read about Canada’s Thanksgiving traditions (we Americans don’t get much education about our northern neighbors which is a real shame) and fell down a rabbit hole for a bit reading about the indigenous peoples history of celebrating the fall harvest which does indeed predate the European settlers. I’ve always loved the tradition of having a day to reflect on those things we’re thankful for and try to practice incorporating it into my day, too which helps keep some of the bigger worries at bay. There are so many things that we are fortunate to have and to experience and even the little things (like a sweet potato) add to the sheer enjoyment of being right where we want to be.

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  • I’ve never understood the whole American thanksgiving thing – in Canada it’s really a very minor holiday (unfortunately). BUT I love sweet potato and as I sit here in Sarajevo I can imagine Turkey and sweet potato. I think that could be a nice combination 🙂
    But you guys must get sick of sardines…

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    • That’s interesting about the Canadian Thanksgiving, Frank. We celebrated the holiday with some Canadian friends in October a couple of years ago and just assumed it was a big holiday like in the US. (I’ll bet Black Friday beats it all to hell! 🙂) I’m imagining you now, looking for turkey and sweet potatoes in Sarajevo. Maybe one or the other? Here in Portugal, sardine season is so short (June through August) that we really haven’t had a chance to get sick of them. (Fishing for sardines is legal only in those months so that the population isn’t wiped out. That, of course, adds to their allure.) Freshly caught and grilled sardines are one of our favorite Portuguese dishes. Mmmm!

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  • I love sweet potatoes! Your post reminds me that l have some sweet potato crunch (lovingly prepared by our pet sitters who just left to go back to the U.S this morning) that l need to eat. They had a celebration of sorts on turkey day they said. Just like in Portugal, we are inundated with Black Friday ads and deals. Here, in Nigeria and in Dubai!!! This craziness has spread all over the world and it feels weird without Thanksgiving to go with it. Like you, we are thankful for our good health, freedom, family among others. I find myself more and more being thankful on a daily basis because of so much shite going on in the world. Here’s to continuing good lives :-).

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    • Sweet potato crunch? I’m going to try baking some sweet potato chips this week so if the crunch is anything like that … yum! I can’t believe Black Friday sales in Nigeria although I can see them in Dubai. (I wonder what a sale markdown is in the land of the very rich?) It must be disorienting!
      Thanksgiving is a good reminder to stop and reflect on all that we have but I agree Kemi, that daily gratitude is a good habit to get into. It’s not hard to realize how fortunate we are. And yes – here’s to continuing our good lives!

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  • Thanksgiving for a number of reasons has been my least favorite holiday celebrated so being a world away from this special day in the U.S. was perfectly fine with us. We planned to skip the day entirely until another ex pat American couple suggested that it would be the perfect time for an American potluck with other US ex pats. So we tabled plans for a road trip and headed out to celebrate the day. The gathering was lovely and the feast topped many we’ve had in the U.S. So I’m thankful they organized it. We chose to talk about our lives here and ignored all that is happening in the home country, another plus to the day. Black Friday was alive and well in Greece and we have Christmas decorations lining the shelves from village stores to Kalamata. I am envious of your Sweet Potato Festival – we have a Sardine Festival but they didn’t hold it this year as the organizers couldn’t agree on a date! 🙂 Happy Holidays!!

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    • Over the years, we’ve mostly quit celebrating holidays although we’d put some effort into Christmas for our grandson. I’ve always been put off by the extreme commercialism of Christmas: the relentless sales and advertisements and holiday songs starting in October. Christmas for one day is plenty. We have however, observed Thanksgiving in one form or another and have enjoyed spending the day with other expats a few times. The mix of people coming from different backgrounds and nationalities is fun and it’s good to avoid the political arguments. It sounds like Black Friday is alive and well in Greece and, from talking to other expat friends in various countries, it appears that the event has made it’s way throughout the world along with the appearance of earlier holiday decorations. I loved your comment about how the Sardine Festival was canceled because the organizers couldn’t agree on a date. That’s too bad because I’m sure you missed both the sardines and festivities. The added drama might have been fun watch, too!

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  • We love sweet potatoes and would have been leading the way. As for Thanksgiving, one of our more memorable dinners on T-Day was at a Chinese restaurant in York, England some years ago. We feel the spirit of thanks no matter where we are and no matter what the food. This year we were with family and friends. What a treat!

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    • You would have enjoyed the festival, Beth and Joe, as well as admired all the handicrafts. And Chinese food to celebrate the holiday sounds good to us! Plus, no tedious prep or dishes to wash up later. 🙂 Since I usually worked the holiday, we already had a rather flexible idea of our Thanksgiving celebration. Over the years, the holiday has evolved from a traditional feast to wherever we are with new friends or old and taking the time to reflect on what we’re thankful for. I know that it won’t come as any surprise to you that the things we value most aren’t things at all. How fortunate we are!

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  • What a great post. I love sweet potatoes, too. I learned to love them in Alabama as a child. Of course, then, they were covered in marshmallows and had a lot of sugar added. Now my favorite way to eat them is roasted in the oven inside the skin. But I also like to slice them (3 mm thick or less) and fry them in a skillet with grape seed oil. As they finish I sprinkle cinnamon on them. It is still my favorite vegetable. Nutritionist say sweet potatoes helps regulate blood sugar levels. I just know that after I eat them, I feel satiated and energized – a wonderful balance. In my last couple of years of work, I would eat one for breakfast to get my body and mind humming on all pistons. It worked well. I still do that but not every day.

    Clearly visiting smaller festivals like this is one of the sweetest perks of living in a country rather than just visiting it for a few days like vacation travelers.

    Regarding Thanksgiving, it used to be my favorite holiday but living in Mexico, we don’t miss it. We have expat friends who have a big pot luck and sometimes go to that. But it is not the same. Especially with the win/lose mentality that seems to be running rampant in the U.S. right now, it seems odd to partake in a U.S. holiday that is recognizing how the founding of the colonies was “saved” by peoples who were later destroyed or “run out” by subsequent settlers. This brings me to the MAGA. The US was great when it was compassionate and welcoming to the poor, hungry, ailing, and beleaguered. But that is not the greatness the current leadership seeks. Current leaders want to keep out the very ones who are so down trodden that they will work hard to make the US greater than it is. Thanksgiving is about hungry, whipped, struggling, dying colonialist being supported and cared for by the native Americans. The infrastructure and wisdom of how things worked was passed on to the colonies and that is what enabled them to survive and thrive. It is very sad that we are now a country who rejects the newest round of down trodden immigrants. Instead the US should welcome them and give them some support and infrastructure to help them thrive. In doing so we will not just save the immigrants, we will save ourselves.

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    • Thank you, Tom for your wonderfully thoughtful comment. I laughed when I read about the sweet potatoes with marshmallows as my mom served them the same way and I hated them. Perhaps that’s why it took me years before I tried them again and now I often have one for breakfast with cinnamon, walnuts and a bit of olive oil. Richard won’t be budged from his toast and cereal, though!
      We agree with your observation about Thanksgiving’s inauspicious beginnings as the settlers invaded Native American’s lands – not a lot of sharing going on by our “great, white founding fathers.” I think what I’ve always loved about Thanksgiving though, was designating it as a day to reflect on our appreciation for what we have and share the day with friends and family who appear first of our list of things we’re thankful for. And YES, as a nation descended from immigrants, our very strength is in our welcoming immigrants and diversity rather than a homogeneous society featuring the same white (rich) men. Like you, we are anxious, horrified and saddened by this administration’s current direction that seems intent on rejecting everything we value.

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  • What we found the most humorous is the numerous Black Friday sales here in Porto. We always associate Black Friday with Thanksgiving, so it seemed odd to have Black Friday without the Thanksgiving Thursday.

    And, as you say, straight from Halloween to Christmas lights. Here in Porto, we have been watching the city crews hang/string lights pretty much throughout the city. They’ve been hanging lights the entire month of November. The city must have multiple warehouses just to store all of the light displays. It’s really quite something and we’re looking forward to seeing the city illuminated.

    All the more interesting, although bittersweet to experience something different, but missing loved ones.

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    • The Black Friday signs in Lagos really had us laughing too, Patty although this “tradition” is all about moving the holiday merchandise. It’s still much less commercialized than back in the US and we definitely appreciate the more stripped down version where the holiday isn’t a huge buy, buy, buy assault. Over the years of the US holiday season, I grew to dread the music, the decoration and lights, the Salvation Army Santas, etc. because they were everywhere and lasted for so long. Because we don’t watch TV, we can enjoy the holiday in carefully measured portions: the Christmas carols when we grocery shop, the Christmas lights that are going up around town, and the toys crowding just a few shelves for the kids. This is another time I really like the ‘less is best’ approach!

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  • I love the idea that you have a special day for gratitude, “Thanksgiving” should be adopted by all. O festival da batata doce sounds like great fun and so “delicioso” I am a huge fun of sweet potatoes, I love making oven sweet potato chips. I am so glad you are truly enjoying your newly adopted country, embracing cultural differences and new traditions is all part of the fun😄

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    • I like your phrase Gilda, “a special day for gratitude” because that’s what the day is all about. As the years have gone by, the day has become more politicized because of our founders’ harsh treatment of the Native American population, but the day, to us, was always about taking a moment to remember all the things we have to be thankful for. I just wrote down a recipe to make baked sweet potato chips and am going to try them this week. They look easy to make and, if Richard doesn’t like them, it will be more for me! 🙂

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  • Wonderful to hear from old friends during holiday time. I share your sentiments and trust this ‘dark’ time will pass into sunlight. I had a wonderful day with my family. The table gets bigger as grown children bring their significant others.
    Keep well.
    Maida

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    • A Happy, belated Thanksgiving day to you, Maida and we’re so glad you had a great time with your family. When we lived in the US, we usually ended up celebrating our Thanksgiving on a different day because I was working. As far as we were concerned, we had an even better tradition because the day was ours. And we always had more people to celebrate the day with, too!

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  • Goodness, that last paragraph – both gripping and likewise my sentiments exactly!

    That said, I’m intrigued with the term “Fiesta da Batata Doce”. Interesting the nuanced differences between Portuguese and Spanish – here “doce” would most definitely mean “twelve”, and the fiesta would be dubbed something like “Fiesta de Patatas Dulce”

    In any case – Happy Pavo Day to you both! 😉

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    • And a belated Happy Pavo day to you as well, Dyanne! Those slight nuances between Spanish and Portuguese play havoc with trying to learn Portuguese as it’s easy to slip back to Spanish and defeat the whole language acquisition process! 🙂 The similarity between the two languages is deceptive because then there’s all the other vocabulary that’s totally new. And of course, there’s the whole pronunciation side which Richard seems to be “getting” but has totally defeated me. Starting Portuguese language lessons will be my 2018 New Year’s resolution. The sky’s the limit – LOL!

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  • I’m with Richard in having an adversion to sweet potatoes, but I also think that any excuse for a celebration is a good one! You two have so much to be grateful for. Your adopted country sounds lovely and being away from the U.S. right now is a good thing. Hopefully we’ll get things righted one day soon but, for now, many – most? – of us are walking around in a state of shock and disbelief.

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    • We try to remember often, how thankful we are for the many opportunities we’ve been given over the years (plus the ones we grabbed!) and the serendipity gods who landed us in Portugal. And we are grateful to be watching what’s happening in the US with an ocean separating us from the assault on all that we value and used to take for granted. But, even though we’re far away, we too feel so much of what you describe as a daily shock and disbelief. We too feel the sick anxiety of “What’s next?” every day when we read the esteemed New York Times and Washington Post. What a difference a year can make …

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