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A new holiday guest: World Cup shakes up Thanksgiving Day routines

Brazil fans celebrated a goal during the world cup matchup between Brazil and Serbia at Gaucho Brazilian Cuisine in Somerville on Thursday.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

When the final whistle blew on Portugal’s 3-2 win over Ghana in the World Cup on Thursday, soccer fans Esther Ayuk and Nick Herring didn’t have much time to waste.

The couple was watching the game with friends at Parlor Sports bar in Somerville, but it was time to go home and whip up some mac and cheese and mashed potatoes before welcoming family and friends for a Thanksgiving dinner.

Herring, 34, said they woke up early to watch Cameroon face Switzerland at 5 a.m. and planned to watch Brazil play Serbia from their home. Once that game wrapped, it was time for his favorite NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys, to kick off against their rival New York Giants.


Brazil fans watch the world cup matchup between Brazil and Serbia at Gaucho Brazilian Cuisine in Somerville.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

It made for a long Thanksgiving day, but Herring had no complaints.

“Not at all,” he said. “It’s only made it better.”

American football, long synonymous with Thanksgiving festivities, took a backseat to World Cup soccer for some fans on Thursday as the quadrennial international tournament, typically held in the summer, shifted to November and December due to the intense summer heat in the host nation, Qatar.

Garvey Salomon, 44, a manager at Parlor Sports who was bartending on Thursday, said they are usually closed on Thanksgiving but this year he asked the owners about staying open for the World Cup matches. He said the bar has seen a growing number of soccer fans in recent years.

“We already had a basketball crowd, an NFL crowd, a Bruins crowd, but the soccer crowd was something that for the last seven or eight years we cultivated here a little bit,” he said.

Across town at Gauchao Brazilian Cuisine, dozens of people made reservations for tables during the Brazil-Serbia match. With numerous televisions set up across the restaurant, the party picked up as the Brazilian National Anthem played and many stood up to sing and cheer. Green, yellow, white, and blue streamers hung from the ceiling and sparkled in the afternoon daylight that shined through the front windows.


(From left) Andre Batista, Saint Clair Coelho and Nelson Schwenck sang along to the Brazilian national anthem at Gaucho Brazilian Cuisine.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

“It’s special because it’s a holiday, so everybody is off and can come together to watch the game,” said Nelson Schwenck, 52, of Watertown, who had a table with his friend, Saint Clair Coelho, and Coelho’s cousin, Andre Batista.

“It’s like the Super Bowl for us,” said Coelho, 40, of Everett. “We don’t know many people here, but we’re celebrating and making friends. We just, you know, high-five and drink and smile and eat.”

Coelho said they had a turkey waiting for them at home with the rest of his family.

While many fans had their eyes glued to World Cup action, the fever pitch was not felt by all.

In West Roxbury on Thursday morning, fans at the 60th Annual “Pumpkin Bowl” Game between Catholic Memorial School and Boston College High School said they are interested in soccer — just not nearly as much as football. Or hockey. Or baseball. Or basketball.

Luke Folan, 22, a Catholic Memorial alumnus, said he had watched some of the US team’s recent games, and had used online betting sites to place wagers on a few matches, but “I just feel like soccer’s not that important to a lot of people around here.”

“Soccer’s just bigger in all other parts of the world,” Folan said. “I don’t really know what it is, but I think it’s got a much longer way to go here.”


Of the World Cup, Folan said, “Once it’s sudden death, then I feel like people maybe might pay a little bit more attention.”

Jeiverson Lima checked his phone next to a world cup trophy model at Gaucho Brazilian Cuisine.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

Jill Adduci Connolly said her son, a BC High senior, and her 17-year-old twin daughters had “all played soccer when they were younger, which was fabulous, because it’s not an expensive sport, per se, and you can get a lot of people out. … But then as time went on, they had different interests.”

Her son, Martin Connolly,18, said football and basketball are his top sports, and he’s pretty strongly interested in hockey and baseball, too. But soccer? Not so much.

“I don’t really think that the World Cup is that important. This is America,” he said. “Even recently, I’ve only started to see people barely start to pay attention to the Revolution. … We’re not watching the Thanksgiving soccer game. We’re watching the Thanksgiving Day football game.”

But at The Banshee, a Dorchester pub that has become a favorite gathering spot for soccer fans, all eyes were on the line of TV screens as Portugal triumphed over Ghana midday Thursday.

Sitting at the bar wearing Portugal’s home jersey was Jim Medeiros, and beside him wearing the team’s away jersey was his partner, Bruce Crow, whose shirt bore the name and number 7 of team captain Cristiano Ronaldo.

Medeiros, 58, grew up near Fall River in a Portuguese American family, the grandson of immigrants, and he holds dual citizenship.


“I’m mainly interested because Portugal is very special to me,” he said. “I was always raised to have an amazing amount of pride in my history and my background.”

Bruce Crow celebrated Portugal’s first goal at the world cup matchup between Portugal and Ghana at The Banshee in Dorchester.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

Medeiros and Crow have been cheering for the team for nearly two decades now, and they have been coming to The Banshee for games since they moved nearby in 2006, but the unusual timing of this year’s World Cup has made it a different experience, they said.

As they sat at the bar, a friend was in their kitchen, tending to the turkey they planned to eat later. The friend was wearing Portugal’s practice jersey, they said.

At a nearby table, Dania Jabal and Adnan Fakhoury, a married couple who both grew up in Lebanon, said they were visiting the pub for the first time and quickly saw that it was a soccer-friendly environment.

“We noticed. Eleven a.m., everyone’s like, drinking their beers and watching a game? That’s unusual,” Jabal said. “But we like it.”

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox. Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.