How To Make A Chinese Woman Feel Included On Thanksgiving

A Chinese woman wearing a red dress.
China Brides Caption logo When you’re married to a Chinese woman, you have to accept that she’ll bring things to the table culturally.

When you’re in a foreign marriage, your new wife is going to bring with her a different culture, even if the country she’s from is geographically close by. Take the United States and Canada, for example.

Both countries are pretty similar culturally, but there are a few noticeable differences between the two of them, such as the way they pronounce the word “about” and the preferred seasoning for french fries - ketchup for Americans and gravy for Canadians.

Things like that can be pretty negligible, but other differences in culture become much starker when there’s a lot more distance between the two countries and for a couple, being able to integrate those differences is going to be important. That’s one of the ways in which international dating is different from regular dating.

Now, if you marry a Chinese woman, then you’re going to have to integrate a few aspects of her culture not just into your day to day life, but also into your special occasions.

Some of the occasions that you celebrate may be celebrated in China as well, particularly Christmas and New Year’s Day. They’ll be celebrated differently there, but it will be relatively easy to integrate some of your partner’s traditions into your celebration.

However, there are some holidays that are more regional and celebrated only in the United States. Thanksgiving is one such holiday. Canada has one of their own, but it’s celebrated in October as opposed to November and its origins are different.

So you could just celebrate Thanksgiving the way that you normally do. Or you could integrate a few aspects of Chinese culture into your festivities.

Now, what aspects of your wife’s culture can you integrate into Thanksgiving? Because Thanksgiving takes place in November, there aren’t that many other celebrations in that month that you can borrow from.

A turkey being carved at a table.
China Brides Caption logo Your celebrations are foreign to her, so make her feel like she’s welcome.

The biggest cultural event that’s celebrated in China in November is Singles’ Day on the 11th, and it celebrates single people, like you used to be before you met the love of your life.

Given that you’re in a happy relationship and Singles’ Day is mostly for shopping anyway so Black Friday makes it somewhat redundant. But there are other holidays from which you can borrow aspects that you can integrate into your Thanksgiving celebration.

Adding a few touches of her culture is going to make your wife feel seen. It will make her feel more included in non-Chinese holidays.

Also, she may not be able to celebrate her holidays, at least not in the same way she’d be able to if she were still in China, so adding a few touches of her culture to your holidays should help with her transition to a new country and culture. The importance of Chinese culture to most Chinese people can’t be downplayed - it’s a fundamental aspect of many of their identities.

Integrating Chinese Food in the Menu

What’s the main appeal of Thanksgiving? Is it the relatives getting into arguments with each other and shouting over one another? Is it having to go around the table and say what everyone is thankful for?

Or is it the food? The turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the pecan pie. Is the consumption of food to the point of entering a food coma the point of Thanksgiving?

If that’s what you look forward to the most, then maybe you should add some food from your wife’s culture to your spread. You don’t have to have all Chinese food on your table, but you can put some dumplings next to your turkey.

Adding Chinese food to the menu works not just because your wife is Chinese and doing so is a step towards integrating her culture into your life, but also because feasting is how a lot of Chinese people celebrate their special occasions and having more food makes feasting easier for everyone.

A serving of dumplings.
China Brides Caption logo There’s no rule that says you can’t serve dumplings on Thanksgiving.

For dessert, maybe try putting out some youtiao or Chinese doughnut sticks. These are sticks of fried dough that are dipped in various sauces. It’s usually eaten as a breakfast food, but a lot of people eat them throughout the day.

If you want, you can also chop up and serve your turkey in the same way that a lot of Chinese people cut up chicken, goose, and duck instead of serving it whole and carving it on the table.

Having a Red Centerpiece

In the middle of many a Thanksgiving table is a centerpiece and it’s usually in autumnal colors such as orange, yellow, brown, or red, and it’s probably in neutral, muted shades of these colors. But maybe the shade of red that’s part of your centerpiece should be a little bit brighter, a little more vibrant.

Red is a very important part of Chinese culture. It symbolizes good fortune and joy. To that end, many Chinese people drape their homes in red and wear red during holidays and family gatherings.

The shade of red is going to be important as well. Vermilion is the shade of red that’s widely used in China - in fact, it’s so important to Chinese culture that one of the four symbols of the Chinese constellation is the Vermilion bird, so if you and your wife are going to integrate the color red into your centerpiece, make sure to get the shade right.

If having a centerpiece isn’t viable, then maybe have a vermilion tablecloth.

Homesickness is something that is likely to affect someone who moves from one country to another. They’ll miss hearing their native language and they may not have an easy time learning a new one. They’ll miss out on the parties and celebrations that they grew up with and have to adapt to different types of celebrations.

If your wife is someone who left her country for you, then it would do your marriage well for you to encourage her to bring a few aspects of her culture with her when she does eventually come to live with you. It’ll make her happier and don’t forget the old adage that serves as an evergreen piece of marriage advice: happy wife, happy life.

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