The big meal will follow, including guests and friends from around Rome, especially American expats. Another tradition is for seating to be arranged according to home state, tables adorned with state-themed décor, such as sports jerseys or a papier-mâché cactus.
The Australian students – there are five – usually sit at a table together, but have decided this year to spread themselves out among the Americans, Buck said, as a way of more fully integrating into the holiday.
The dinner, which "captures most the festive atmosphere of the day," according to Buck, will be a traditional American dinner in most ways – complete with turkey and mashed potatoes with gravy. But because they're still in Rome, a dish of ravioli will provide an Italian twist.
After dinner there will be some free-time, and students often use that opportunity to make video calls home to their families.
Fr. Hanley noted that one of his favorite memories of Thanksgiving Day was walking into the chapel after dinner one year to offer a personal prayer of thanksgiving, and finding more than 100 seminarians praying before the Blessed Sacrament.
"It wasn't an event, it was just that all these other men decided to go in and pray… and give thanks on Thanksgiving," he said.
The final event of the holiday weekend will be the "Spaghetti Bowl," an annual flag football match between a team of "new men" of the seminary, first-year and new transfer students, and a team of upperclassmen, nicknamed the "old men."
A lot of the weekend is designed, Hanley said, to strengthen "the bond of the new men class – with each other – and then to strengthen their bond as members of this community." Though most people would want to be home for Thanksgiving if they could, he noted that most seminarians seem to look forward to the weekend.
"There is certainly an atmosphere of thanksgiving and an atmosphere of taking stock" over the day's celebrations, Buck explained, as well as joy for getting to spend the day together.
As an Aussie, Buck also wanted to offer his own gratitude for the holiday and getting to participate, saying he shares his own "thanksgiving for being able to share in Thanksgiving."