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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Gators celebrate Thanksgiving in ways unique to their culture and history

Here is how SFSU students bring their culture into the holiday
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Feven Mamo
Armin Abolhassani and Jacob Vang, junior gators, captured in portraits as they showcase their unconventional Thanksgiving celebrations. Former roommates, the two express their unique approaches to the holiday festivities, on Nov.15, 2023. (Feven Mamo/ Golden Gate Xpress)

Persian delicacies, traditional Hmong food and giving turkeys to people in need. San Francisco State University students have reclaimed Thanksgiving and made it their own choice to celebrate family and their own unique cultures.

Thanksgiving represents many things for different people. Depending on your cultural background and religious beliefs, the celebration of Thanksgiving can look very different. With a week-long break starting on the 20th, SFSU students choose to celebrate Thanksgiving their own way.

Krystal Licudan is a junior at SFSU who enjoys Thanksgiving but doesn’t celebrate with a traditional turkey dinner.

“As I grew up, it’s more of a time for family to come together and a chance to connect,” said Licudan.

Beyond connecting with family, Licudan says she sees the holidays as the perfect time to give back to the community.

“For the past couple of years, we’ve been going to churches, me and my partner, where they give out free food,” Licudan continued. “The churches usually also have an area where people can get free clothes in case they need it. We’ve gone to churches to volunteer in previous years, and I think we’re gonna do that this year.”

Licudan says that as she got older and became more aware of the history of Thanksgiving, the celebration aspect of the holiday became less important.

“It made me deviate from even wanting to celebrate it, but I still like the family aspect,” Licudan said.

Armin Abolhassani is a philosophy and creative writing double major at SFSU. As a philosophy major, he naturally questioned why Thanksgiving was celebrated at all. Abolhassani and his family decided the best way for them to celebrate Thanksgiving was to cook a feast of traditional Persian food, which is something Abolhassani said he appreciated about the holiday.

“I used to live in Canada, so Thanksgiving wasn’t really a big deal at all,” Abolhassani said. “So when I came here, it was just kind of confusing. Why are they celebrating? It always seemed kind of pointless to me.”

Jacob Vang is a Junior at SFSU majoring in microbiology and is planning to return home to Fresno for Thanksgiving break. Vang expressed disgust towards the history of Thanksgiving.

“It’s pretty much just a Hallmark holiday. I don’t mess with the history of Thanksgiving at all, colonization is a terrible thing,” Vang said.

Vang is looking forward to his mother’s cooking. His parents are Hmong, and like Abolhassani’s family, enjoy traditional food from their culture on Thanksgiving.

“My mom will bake a turkey. That’s the Thanksgiving food,” Vang continued. “Other than that, everything is super traditional among food that I never get to eat. I love it.”

Vang, like many other students, has decided to reinterpret Thanksgiving. He chooses to appreciate the time he has off to spend with family and relax.

Durran Riley is a sophomore at SFSU studying political science. Riley grew up in the Bay Area and said he was looking forward to seeing family and eating good food.

Riley noticed that as a kid, there was an emphasis on the traditions of Thanksgiving. As he got older, that became less important compared to connecting with the people in his life that matter most.

“I feel like when I was younger they talked more in school about the history of Thanksgiving, but then later as I got older it’s just a family holiday,” Riley said.

Riley expressed mixed emotions about the holiday, saying that he loves seeing his family and eating the food but not loving the history.

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About the Contributors
Jonah Chambliss, Staff Reporter
Jonah Chambliss (he/him) is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in sociology. He was born and raised in Oakland, California. He lives in San Francisco, California, while working full-time and attending San Francisco State University. He previously contributed to The Cabrillo Voice, the student newspaper of Cabrillo Community College in Aptos, California. He served as a staff reporter for Golden GateXpress last semester, covering arts and entertainment, and will cover student life and club events this spring. During his free time, Jonah is an avid cyclist, motorcycle rider, and mechanic. Jonah is also a huge fan of Bay Area sports, specifically the Oakland Athletics and Golden State Warriors.
Feven Mamo, Staff Photographer
Feven Mamo started her educational journey at Berkeley City College, initially majoring in computer science, before transferring to San Francisco State University as an economics major. Professionally, she held the role of an Economic Equity Research Analyst at U3 Systems Work. Her photography passion started with a thrifted film camera from Oakland, her work is influenced by social justice issues and the streets of Oakland. Previously, her photography has been selected as a weekly favorite by VSCO, a photography app for mobile devices. Feven also exhibits a deep enthusiasm for curly hair, having previously worked as a hair model for hairstylists. 

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