Many people think of Thanksgiving as a quintessential American holiday. Staples like turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie and activities like cooking, parades, football, and family get-togethers are typically associated with the holiday. As it turns out, Thanksgiving is not just celebrated in the United States. All around the world, people celebrate the harvest of the season in the October/November timeframe and give thanks for their lives and for those around them. Although the exact dates, names, and customs associated with the holiday differ around the world, the principle behind it is the same – this is a day that people join together, talk with each other and feast. Thanksgiving is the holiday of together. In this blog we explore how different cultures celebrate Thanksgiving and how that human connection can be year around.
Erntedankfest is a harvest festival that gives thanks for the good fortune of the year. It is a religious holiday that usually takes place on the first Sunday in October. In rural areas and cities alike, churches hold festivals that typically include a procession where people wear Erntekrone—harvest crowns made of grains, flowers, and fruit. Traditional Erntedankfest staples include fattened up chickens, hens, castrated roosters, and geese.
Thanksgiving in Japan is known as Kinro Kansha no Hi, which literally translates to Labor Thanksgiving Day. It is a public national holiday that is celebrated on November 23rd. Originally celebrated as a harvest festival, the holiday today is associated more with hard work and community involvement. In particular, Kinro Kansha no Hi celebrates the rights of post-World War II Japan workers. Activities include labor organization-led festivities and children making crafts and gifts for local police officers.
While similar to Thanksgiving in the United States, Thanksgiving in Canada has been celebrated for much longer. First celebrated in 1578 in honor of English explorer Martin Frobisher giving thanks for his fleet’s safe travels in present-day Nanavut, the national holiday takes place on the second Monday in October. Just like Thanksgiving in the United States, some favorite Canadian Thanksgiving dishes include turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn.
Thanksgiving in Grenada is celebrated on October 25 in honor of the anniversary of the US military invasion to restore order after the death of communist leader Maurice Bishop. The American soldiers told the Grenadians about Thanksgiving and the Grenadians surprised the American soldiers with a traditional American Thanksgiving feast to express their gratitude. The Grenadians adopted the holiday, which is today celebrated with formal remembrance ceremonies.
Liberian Thanksgiving is also similar to American Thanksgiving. It is primarily celebrated by Christians, who bring baskets of local fruits—such as bananas, papayas, mangoes, and pineapples—to their churches. After the service, an auction is held, and then families go home to eat. Concerts and dancing have also become characteristic of Thanksgiving in Liberia.
American trader Isaac Robinson suggested adorning the All Saints Church in Norfolk Island with palm leaves and lemons to attract whalers for a Thanksgiving celebration. Celebrated on the last Wednesday in November, families bring fresh fruits and vegetables to church and decorate the pews and altars with fresh flowers and cornstalks. These offerings are then sold to raise money for the church.
Chuseok is celebrated in late September or early October, when families enjoy food together, share stories, and honor their deceased ancestors. The main Chuseok dish is called Songpyeon—glutinous rice cake filled with red beans, chestnuts, and other ingredients. The meal is usually enjoyed after a memorial service for the deceased ancestors, which might include a trip to their graves. Other activities include dancing, wrestling, and dressing in traditional costumes.
In China, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, which corresponds to September or October. A time for families and loved ones to gather over a giant feast, the festival is celebrated in honor of a legend that claims that the moon is brightest and roundest on this day, which may in turn rekindle friendships and romances. The mooncake is the main staple of this holiday.
Homowo, which means “hooted at hunger,” is a yam harvest celebration that commemorates a period of famine in Ghanaian history. Typically, the festival takes place between May and August and involves women digging up yams and saving the best for their festival dinner. The yams and food are blessed by local chiefs before the are enjoyed. In addition to enjoying yams, Ghanaians also enjoy dancing, singing, and playing the drums during this festival.
Some have a yearning to broaden our worldview and learn more about different cultures. Some love to understand things by talking to others instead of just reading books and blogs and just collecting dry information. Some just love the interaction of talking with others about interesting things. If you are one of those, you will want to check out Konversai—the world’s largest platform for conversations. You will find people offering conversations (we call them providers) and others seeking conversations (we call them seekers). Konversai helps make the connection between providers and seekers. They then talk about topics that are meaningful to them. Founded on the notion that everybody has valuable knowledge to share with the world and can also benefit from the knowledge from others, Konversai encourages its users to be both providers and seekers. Over 70% of our providers are also seekers. Providers are also encouraged to charge for their time though they can give their time for free or donate if they wish. We believe that the exchange of money brings seriousness to the interaction and creates an atmosphere of mutual respect for each other’s time and content. People who don’t need the money are given the option to donate it to their favorite charity. By sharing our knowledge, skills, and personal experiences with the world, we can play a role in making other people’s lives happier while also getting a few drops of happiness on ourselves. A world that talks is a happy world, and a happy world is better world.
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- Puchko, Kristy. (2015). How 7 Other Nations Celebrate Thanksgiving. Mental Floss.
- The Week. (2012). 6 Thanksgiving celebrations around the world.