Best Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Cancun
Getting Your Grateful On With a Mexican Thanksgiving
By Laura Winzeler
If you’re fortunate enough to be saying gracias for your many Thanksgiving blessings while relaxing on Mexico’s Riviera Maya this year, you’ve really got a lot to be thankful for.
Although every day feels like Thanksgiving when you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort like any of the eight bountiful and beautiful Palace Resorts on Riviera Maya, how else might you want to stretch your legs off-property and savor your harvest-season holiday?
A Day Dedicated to Union and Gratitude
Although a decidedly American holiday, the shared border with Mexico makes it inevitable that some U.S. Thanksgiving customs would find their way south, albeit in a far more spicy and colorful manifestation. Mexicans who do choose to commemorate the day bring a religious intention into the celebrations with a focus on expressing appreciation for their many blessings. It’s a day to gather with friends and family and share warm conversation and plentiful food.
The third Monday in November is Mexico's Revolution Day (Día de la Revolución), and this year it falls on the 20th. Most employees enjoy a day off to celebrate over special meals, parades, and fireworks. This festive atmosphere segues right into the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday three days later.
Thanksgiving Meal Traditions With a Vibrant Twist
If you’re looking for the traditional turkey fare, you’ll find numerous restaurants in Cancun to play gracious host to expats, vacationers, and locals. Of course, Palace Resorts bounty of dining options harkens back to the most resplendent Plymouth celebration so you don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy classic fare.
Feeling adventurous? Try enjoying a turkey stuffed with tamale dough and prepared in a green mole or spicy chipotle pepper sauce. You may also find the meaty star of the show is often a succulent marinated pork roast, rather than fowl.
Other foods likely to be on the menu at a Mexican Thanksgiving feast include mashed sweet potatoes with piloncillo warmed with a touch of chile de árbol. Sip on chorizo pumpkin soup served with tortillas and hot sauce or jalapeño and cilantro cornbread in lieu of white rolls and butter.
Cranberries are hard to come by; so tangy kumquat often steps in as the tart meat relish. Squash bread pudding with rum sauce and tres leches pumpkin flan adds the perfect sweet finish to cool your palate.
An even more unique twist on Thanksgiving meal traditions will be served up, literally and figuratively, at the Chef Wars at Moon Palace Cancun, where two chefs will have 30 minutes to cook a holiday meal with a special ingredient.
Guests will be the judges and the best part is that after the competition a huge buffet will be set up for everyone to enjoy the fruits of the competition.
Indulge in Activities
If the thought of going cold turkey with no football viewing on Thanksgiving gives you hives, head to The Pub or another of Moon Palace Cancun’s bars to get your fill, or, if you feel like stepping out of your resort, head over to Playa Del Carmen’s legendary Wah Wah Beach Bar or Cancun’s La Taberna de los Amigos. You can yell at the numerous big screen TVs alongside the crowd of expats and tourists while washing down made-to-order fish tacos, turkey enchiladas, or chicken wings with a bucket of beer or a frosty michelada.
Once you’ve had your fill of food and football, step out of your ultra-modern Cancun hotel and journey back into Mexico’s sacred past with an early-morning tour of the historic and beautifully preserved Chichen-Itza. With a private archaeologist as your guide, you’ll explore the mythology and cosmology of this vast pre-Hispanic city that was a hub of Mayan-Toltec civilization in Yucatan and today enjoys UNESCO protection and status as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
If you’re enjoying an extended Mexican holiday, be sure to check out the 15th anniversary of the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival from November 30th through December 2nd. Jazz greats and their fans flock to the massive, open-air stage at Mamitas Beach Club in Playa del Carmen for this very popular, totally free event.