Alumni Services

Celebrating Thanksgiving on campus

With exams looming, the chance to make a trip home to celebrate Thanksgiving is out of the question for most American students. We spoke to three, however, who made the most of celebrating the holiday in true Edinburgh style.

Thanksgiving dinner in Rainy Hall, New College
Postgraduate students and staff from the School of Divinity enjoy a Thanksgiving pot-luck dinner in Rainy Hall, New College

New College community pulls together

It was a usual November evening – cold, dark and damp – but in the heart of New College, the mood was buzzing and appetites were growing as postgraduate students and staff from the School of Divinity gathered in Rainy Hall to celebrate Thanksgiving. On the menu was a pot-luck dinner organised by the New College Postgraduate Committee and led by Vice-Convenor Calida Chu.

It was an informal and convivial affair. Roast turkeys wrapped in tin foil were carried lovingly by foot from a student kitchen to the gothic revival style hall, and placed snuggly on the side table amongst dishes prepared by other volunteers: mashed potatoes, vegetables, bread rolls, and cranberry sauce. There are desserts too – pumpkin pie with cream and cupcakes.

For a School that counts many American students in its population, the event was a welcome way to celebrate Thanksgiving among friends and colleagues.

It is a very special evening for our community. New College Thanksgiving started as ‘illegal’ dinners many years ago, when our PhD students sneaked to Rainy Hall when the School was already closed to avoid paying for the Hall’s very expensive rental. They wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving together as friends and a close-knit community of New College postgraduates. Soon the dinners became an official event where everyone brought a dish to share it with others and brought their partners and families

Jo ThorConvenor of the New College Postgraduate Committee
Student Claire and friends enjoy a restaurant dinner to celebrate Thanksgiving.
John Witherspoon scholar Claire Ashmead (second from left) and classmates celebrate Thanksgiving at a local restaurant.

Candle-lit dinner with classmates

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Edinburgh also meant spending quality time with class mates for Claire Ashmead, who is this year’s John Witherspoon Scholar from Cleveland, Ohio. Three months into her studies in Creative Writing at the University, Claire joined fellow students from her writing workshop to celebrate Thanksgiving with a cosy dinner at a local restaurant.

With the hassle of cooking removed from the picture, she had a relaxed dinner in the company of new friends from around the world. "I had a great time. It's always meaningful breaking bread with friends, acquaintances, even a few strangers," she says.

A spectacular Thanksgiving charity ball 

For those looking to celebrate Thanksgiving in grand style, the Edinburgh University North American Society (EUNAS) charity ball was a popular ticket. EUNAS is a cultural society dedicated to promoting greater understanding of American and Canadian culture and to creating a community for North American students, staff and alumni in the city.

Edinburgh University North American Society Thanksgiving Charity Ball in 2016.
Students dancing at the Edinburgh University North American Society Thanksgiving Charity Ball in 2016.

Charlie Laframboise, co-president of EUNAS, explains: “Each year we organize all sorts of socials, networking events, and most notably the Thanksgiving Ball. This year, without a doubt, I can proudly say it was our best one yet! This is thanks to our incredible committee, especially, Carrie Dillon, Elizabeth Feldstein, Chloe Dunn and Karla Pichardo.

“Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful and surrounded by loved ones. Edinburgh students from all backgrounds gathered to enjoy a turkey feast at the Balmoral and raise money for a good cause. This year our society decided to support the incredible Joshua Nolan Foundation (JNF). Mental health is something that touches all of us and we thought it only right to help stop this epidemic and break the stigma. JNF's aim is to help those in desperate need through meaningful counselling and support. Laura Nolan's story is incredibly brave and inspired us to help in whatever way we could. This year’s committee worked tirelessly to raise as much money and awareness for the charity as possible.”   

The Thanksgiving Ball was an absolute success, selling out 300 tickets and plenty of auction and raffle prizes. It's our flagship event every year because of how much fun it is! Great food, drink, music and company, all for a good cause.

Charlie LaframboiseCo-president of EUNAS

Happy thanksgiving

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, we hope you had a wonderful day. We are particularly grateful to those of you who took the time to speak with a student caller during our telethon over the holiday.

Related links

New College Postgraduate Community on Twitter (external link)

New College Postgraduate Community on Facebook (external link)

Edinburgh University North American Society (external link)

John Witherspoon Scholarship

Joshua Nolan Foundation (external link)