People have been asking me to translate “Happy Thanksgiving” in Tagalog, a tricky task because the Pilgrims never made it to Asia, and Thanksgiving Day is not traditionally celebrated in the Philippines. But the Filipino and Filipino-American communities in the United States do enjoy Turkey Day and all the feasting associated with it. How do they
say “Happy Thanksgiving?” Well, they actually say “Happy Thanksgiving” — in English.
If you insist on impressing your friends by expressing the holiday sentiment in Tagalog, let’s attempt a translation. We start by using the Tagalog word closest to “Thanksgiving” — Pasasalamat — which means the act of thanking. If you already know how to say “Thanks” in Tagalog (Salamat), then simply add the two syllables Pasa- at the beginning.
The Tagalog word used for expressing “Happy…” is Maligayang… The root word maligaya means “joyful” and this is same word used in the Tagalog equivalent of “Merry Christmas” (Maligayang Pasko). For the record, the literal translation of “happy” into Tagalog is masaya, but it’s not ordinarily used in holiday greetings.
We can say Maligayang Pasasalamat is the Tagalog translation for “Happy Thansgiving,” but that would not be exactly right. You see, when we say “Happy Thanksgiving” in English, we actually are wishing for the person to have a happy celebration of the day. The act itself of giving thanks is arguably solemn with many bowing their heads, closing their eyes and saying grace. Yes, we’re thankful and glad to have something to be thankful for, but it’s the celebration surrounding the very act of thanking that’s joyous.
That aside, it doesn’t sound right to simply say Maligayang Pasasalamat in Tagalog. It would sound better to translate the whole phrase “Happy Thanksgiving Day.” The word for “day” is araw and the phrase “Day of Thanksgiving” is Araw ng Pasasalamat with the ng meaning “of”.
In short, to wish someone a happy Thanksgiving day, say Maligayang Araw ng Pasasalamat. Listen to the pronunciation here.
And how about “Happy Turkey Day” in Tagalog?
Maligayang Araw ng Pabo!
The expression comes off as stilted in Tagalog, but for those students intent on honing their Tagalog skills, this is how that phrase breaks down. Maligayang… corresponds to “Happy…” and Araw ng Pabo means “Day of Turkey.” The Tagalog word for “turkey” is pabo. Some may argue that the country is eating a lot of turkeys, and not just one, so you may want to use the phrase Mga Pabo referring to many turkeys — mga is what makes the noun plural. “Happy Day of Turkeys” = Maligayang Araw ng Mga Pabo.
MORE THANKSGIVING WORDS IN TAGALOG
Pumpkins, the large orange variety we are familiar with in the United States, are not native to the Philippines. The closest gourd relative grown in Asia is a squash called kalabasa. It’s acceptable to say kalabasa for pumpkin and even substitute one for the other in recipes, although the image Filipinos would call to mind is a greener, smaller, less sweeter version.
Yams are also not a traditional crop in the Philippines, but kamote (sweet potato) is a favorite food of Filipinos who enjoy it either boiled with butter or as thick slices fried in sugar.
BASIC TAGALOG PHRASES FOR THANKSGIVING
Uuwi ako. = I’m going home.
Magsasalu-salo ang pamilya. = The family will eat together.
Magpapasalamat kami. = We are going to give thanks.
Kakain kami ng marami. = We’re going to eat a lot.
Magluluto kami ng pabo. = We’re going to cook a turkey.
Sana masaya din ang iyong Araw ng Pasasalamat.
= I hope your Thanksgiving Day is happy as well.
Gusto mo bang makisalo sa amin? = Would you like to join us?
Iniimbita kita. = I’m inviting you (one person).
Iniimbita ko kayo. = I’m inviting you (many).
Maligayang Araw ng Pasasalamat!
Happy Thanksgiving Day!