As an American, I grew up hearing stories and watching movies about the Indians and English settlers celebrating the harvest together in a time of struggle, which became the first Thanksgiving. For that reason, I just assumed that Thanksgiving was another holiday relatively unique to the United States. I can’t think of too many other countries that had issues with colonists and Indians. However, it turns out that celebrating the season’s harvest is a rather common thing to do! So what is Thanksgiving around the world like?
Celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November
The first Thanksgiving was said to have been celebrated in 1621 when the Indians and English settlers came together to celebrate the year’s harvest. The Indians were the ones who taught the settlers how to grow corn, so when their corn crops were successful, they got together to celebrate. However, it didn’t become an official holiday until 1863.
Thanksgiving started as a way to celebrate the year’s harvest and the hard work that went into it. However, over the year it has developed into more of a holiday of giving thanks and being grateful for everything we have, not just the food on our table.
It’s typical for families to have a turkey for their feast, and with that is the wishbone tradition. Typically, two people hold onto each end of the wishbone and then pull until it breaks. Whoever has the bigger piece at the end gets their wish granted.
My family, and I know several other families as well, has the tradition of saying their thanks. We all sit down at the dinner table, but before we dig into the delicious food, we all go around and say what we’re thankful for. This year I’m thankful for my blog. It’s given me opportunities I never would have even imagined existed, and allowed me to make some new friends in the process!
Celebrated on the second Monday in October
Canada’s Thanksgiving also started in a moment of thanks. However, the exact moment seems to be a bit muddled. Many consider the first Canadian Thanksgiving to have been celebrated by a pirate who gave thanks for a safe journey. However, others state that Canadian Thanksgiving originated with protestant ministers and people who were grateful to have been spared from the Civil War that ravaged through America. Still others say that it originated with a story very similar to the United States, a feast celebrated with Indians who had taught them to survive on the land.
Despite it’s muddled history, it’s traditions are quite similar to the United States. It is a time when families get together for feasts (usually including turkey and pumpkin pie) and have parade celebrations.
Mostly celebrated the first Sunday in October (but not in some parts of the country)
Germany’s version of Thanksgiving is known as Erntedankfest or sometimes just Erntedank. It’s not quite as big as Thanksgiving in the United States or Canada, meaning that it isn’t really a cause for families to have a big get together. However, many cities hold a parade and associated festivities.
Celebrated October 25th
Instead of celebrating the year’s harvest, Grenada’s version of Thanksgiving celebrates the the overthrow of the communist dictatorship they were once under by United States soldiers. The tradition started when many of the soldiers stationed in Grenada told locals about their holiday back home. The locals invited the soldiers into their homes to have a Thanksgiving away from home as their way of showing thanks to the soldiers.
Understandably, the holiday is not quite as large as its originating country, but formal ceremonies are still conducted in the more rural areas to give thanks and remember.
Celebrated on November 23rd
Japan celebrates Kinro Kansha no Hi, which literally translates to “Labor Thanksgiving Day.” It originated from the Shinto festival Niinamesai, which celebrated the abundant harvests of rice and was a time to offer rice to the deities. Despite it’s origins in a harvest festival, Kinro Kansha no Hi focuses more on showing gratitude to the hard work done throughout the year and celebrates workers rights.
Celebrated on the fall equinox
“Chuseok” or “Hangawi” is Korea’s harvest festival. While there isn’t much record as to the origins of Chuseok, it is a holiday that has been around in Korea for many centuries, and is one of the largest holidays in Korea. It is a time when families spend time together to honor each other and their ancestors. Many will visit the graves of loved ones and even hold a special ceremony. After, they get together much as families in the United States or Canada do. However, instead of turkey, the traditional food is Songpyeon, a type of rice cake.
Liberia is an African state that was founded by immigrants. Many were freed slaves from the United States who, of course, brought traditions with them. For that reason, it seems quite similar to celebrations held in the United States with family get togethers and lots of food. However, in Liberia, Thanksgiving is more than just a time to celebrate a good harvest. It’s a time to be grateful for the freedom that they have and the blessings they have received.
You may not know this, but before the pilgrims landed in the new world, which would later become the United States, the pilgrims spent time in the Netherlands, mostly in attempt to avoid religious persecution. Every year, Pieterskerk, the final resting place of some of the pilgrims, holds a service to celebrate the pilgrims who made it to the new world.
Week long celebration that begins five days after Yom Kippur
Sukkot is celebrated all around the world as it is not country specific but religion specific. It is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the harvest of the land in Israel as well as when God provided for the Israelites when they were traveling through the dessert.
- Halloween Around the World
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- Easter Around the World