Alice Petrossian doesn't just plan dinner each year for Thanksgiving.
The 46-year-old Glendale resident usually prepares a feast for 45 to 50 close and distant relatives and friends.
"You'll find that most Armenians who've been here for a few years will go all out with it," said Petrossian, who immigrated from Armenia at age 9.
Although commonly recognized as an American tradition, Thanksgiving has become an adopted holiday for most of the estimated 75,000 Armenians living in Glendale, Burbank and the San Fernando Valley, said Romina Khachatourian of the Armenian National Committee.
Thanksgiving has been accepted as a feast day by many Armenian-Americans, Petrossian said. Other such feast days include Christmas, which is celebrated in January, Easter, Armenian Independence Day in May, and Vartevar, a July holiday in honor of water.
For today, Petrossian planned a three-course meal topped off with Armenian coffee, tea and dessert.
"We are big on hors d'oeuvres and appetizers," said Petrossian, who works for the Glendale Unified School District as director of special projects and intercultural education.
The pre-dinner offerings were to include Armenian beef jerky, also known as \o7 basterma,\f7 Armenian cheeses such as \o7 feta\f7 and a variety of salads and dips, she said.
Dinner would mainly consist of the traditional turkey, yams, ham and rice.
But don't expect to find stuffing or cranberries on the Petrossians' table. Those are two Thanksgiving food items that have yet to catch on among Armenians, Petrossian said.
"I stuff the turkey with anything that will kill the strong smell of turkey," such as onions and fruits, she said.
And instead of the traditional pumpkin pie for dessert, Petrossian plans to set up a spread of Armenian \o7 gata\f7 --a kind of sweet bread--jello, cakes and fruits.
Leftover turkey meat on Friday would be mixed with barley to make a dish called \o7 harisa.\f7
But the meals aren't the highlight of the evening.
"The central piece is the prayer before the meal," said Petrossian, the mother of two sons, ages 18 and 20.
At the dinner table, prayers are usually offered for relatives back home in Armenia--many of whom are starving and without jobs. Family members also give thanks to God for their safe journey to America.
They would then toast grandparents, who struggled as the first to immigrate to America, and children, the hope of the future, Petrossian said. Finally, the discussion would turn again to those less fortunate who still remain in their impoverished homeland.
"The conversations at the table will include the tragedy and despair (in Armenia)," she said.
"A lot of the new immigrants have a great deal to be thankful for. We're so grateful to be in America."