It’s time to pass the turkey, devour pecan pie (or pumpkin if you prefer), and pile on the mashed potatoes! While I don’t agree with how Native Americans have been treated over the years, I do like Thanksgiving for being a day of gratitude, and it’s not just the food that interests me. While Thanksgiving is traditionally seen as a specific piece of American history, America isn’t the only country that sets aside time to express thanks. To see how a few other places show appreciation, keep reading!
This European country’s celebration, Erntedankfest, usually happens on the first day of October and is a harvest festival that gives thanks and good fortune during the year. Traditionally this celebration has religious roots and still is honored in the church today. Festivities include a procession where Erntekrone, a crown made of grain, flowers, and fruit is worn. Chickens, hens, roosters, and geese are eaten as part of the festival feast.
In Israel, the autumn festival Sukkoth lasts eight days. Also known as Hag ha Succot (“The Feast of the Tabernacles”) and Hag ha Asif (“The Feast of Ingathering”), this celebration is a reminder of how the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. During this time, makeshift huts or tents of branches, also known as Succots, represent the tabernacles of ancestors and are used to hang fruits such as apples, grapes, and pomegranates.
The Chung Ch’ui 3-day festival in China is recognized on the day of the full moon on the 8th month of the year. It is traditionally believed to be the birthday of the moon. Round, yellow mooncakes made of red bean paste, roasted pigs, and the first fruits are eaten during this celebration. Legends hold the belief that anyone who sees flowers falling from the moon is blessed with good fortune.
This small and remote Pacific Island’s holiday has ties to U.S. whalers in the mid-1890s. Originally, American trader Isaac Robinson decorated the All Saints Church with palm leaves and lemons in order to attract whalers to the Thanksgiving service. Robinson passed away before the tradition could take root, but nowadays, the holiday is observed on the last Wednesday of November. During this time, families bring fruit and vegetables to the church to celebrate, tie cornstalks to pews, and decorate the altar with fresh flowers. The offerings are then sold to raise money for the church.
Whether these countries give thanks for religious, historic, or traditional reasons, Thanksgiving is a part of many cultures. Showing appreciation is something I’m glad to see is all over the world. While some see this as the connection to unfortunate treatment of indigenous cultures, I hope someday we can learn from our mistakes and see it as a time of respect and understanding. Learning from history and appreciating one another is an important takeaway from all of these celebrations, no matter where you are in the world.
What other Thanksgiving celebrations do you know about?