Thanksgiving Around the World

4177519542_2e3307c179_mNovember 14, 2013

One of the beautiful things about traveling is being able to witness and explore human values that transcend borders and experience the ways those values are celebrated. Each culture has its fair share of holidays and even though our Thanksgiving is special to us, there are many holidays similar to Thanksgiving around the world.

Here are a few holidays similar to Thanksgiving in other countries:

The Harvest Festival: This UK holiday is the celebration of the harvest and has no exact date but is usually held at the end of September. The celebration has been going on in Britain since before Christianity and was celebrated by giving thanks to the Goddess of Grain for a plentiful harvest by offering up animal sacrifices. In 1843 it was turned into a Christian holiday and nowadays there are thanksgiving services and special holiday meals held during this time in Britain to give thanks. In addition, many people bring food and donations to local churches which are parceled and given away to those in need.

Kinro Kansha no Hi: Japan’s version of Thanksgiving is a day which celebrates labor and appreciation of hard work. It is always held on November 23rd, close to our Thanksgiving. It is also seen as a day to be reflective of the things the Japanese hold dear. Originally, the Emperor would taste the first harvested rice of the season.

A special event held on this day is the Nagano Labor Festival. It is a festival which focuses on human rights and the environment.

Chuseok: Chuseok is a Korean holiday held around the autumn equinox also in celebration of the harvest. A special dish is traditionally made called Songpyeon which are Korean rice cakes and can be made with a variety of things like pumpkins or potatoes. Many Koreans return to their hometowns during Chuseok to visit the tombs of their ancestors and pay their respects.

The Yam Festival: In Nigeria, a celebration takes place complete with prayers of thanks, wrestling, feasting, music, and dancing. The celebration honors the plentiful harvest of yams and is a time to reflect on the abundant things in life. A community feast full of yam dishes is held to celebrate and a boy is chosen to carry the best yams to the feast and lead the parade of yam-lovers to the special meal.

Thanksgiving in Canada: Similar to our day of thanks, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving with football, turkey, and parades. It is celebrated in October, usually on a Monday. Many Canadians celebrate over the weekend though and take the time to enjoy this harvest celebration and the last of the good fall weather.

Whether you are eating turkey or rice cakes on your special day, thankfulness is a universal value that reaches beyond the walls of ethnicity.

-Monica Bologna

Photo Credit: Flickr/jbachman01