This is How the World Celebrates Thanksgiving


The world loves Thanksgiving just as much as Americans do. Every culture on Earth has reasons, along with their own ways,  to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest and the good in their lives. Let’s not pay attention to festivities copied- and-pasted off the American version. Instead, here are 5 original thanksgiving celebrations that will inspire you to do things a little differently this year.

Thanksgiving celebrations around the world

1. Moon Cake Festival, China

This mid-autumn thanksgiving celebration is an important event on the Chinese calendar. It is the moment for family gatherings and gift exchanges. At the center of this three-day feast, the Chinese mooncake (yueh ping). It’s a sweet cake filled with sesame seeds, ground lotus seeds, with at its center, a salty yolk to represent the full moon.

Mooncake Festival, the Chinese thanksgiving celebration
Photo Credit: Karen via Flickr CC

2. Pongal, India

This four-day Thanksgiving celebration is more like 4 harvest festivities in one. The Tamils dedicate every day to a different deity; from the Sun god to the god of rain and clouds. There is also a day to honor cows by decorating them. The last day is for travel, family get-together and giving thanks for the good harvest. There’s no doubt mid-January is a festive time to visit the Southern Indian region of Tamil Nadu. Pongal is also the perfect chance to feast on sakkarai and sugarcane sticks.

Tamil Thanksgiving celebration
Photo Credit: Garrett Ziegler via Flickr CC

3. Harvest festival, UK

In the United Kingdom, the thanksgiving celebration is not just about the family but the whole community. Held in September, the harvest festival is the time to give back, especially to the needy in the community. The British exchange baskets of fruits and food or use these to decorate churches.

Thanksgiving celebration: Harvest festival, UK

4. Erntedankfest, Germany

You can always count on Germans to add a great fair atmosphere to their festivities. This thanksgiving celebration is no exception. The people of Düsseldorf-Urdenbach give thanks for a bountiful harvest in music and large parades. There are activities for the whole family as well as fireworks at the end of the day.  They replace the turkey with chicken; and like the British, make it all about giving back to the community.

Erntedankfest germany: thanksgiving celebration
Photo Credit: Prokura via Flickr CC

5. Homowo, Ghana

Yam is a staple food in Ghana, and in most of West Africa. No wonder yam festivals are equivalent to the Western Thanksgiving celebration. Almost every tribe, and culture has their own yam festival. It is a moment to give thanks to the ancestors, not only for the crops, but also for keeping famine and diseases away. Unlike western thanksgiving celebrations which take place around October, the Homowo starts in May, with ceremonies and events lasting over a month.

Yam festival West African Thanksgiving celebration
Photo Credit: Global Crop Diversity Fund via Flickr CC

If you have the opportunity to travel, do not miss your chance to give thanks in all the cultures in the world. Here are five to thanksgiving celebrations to put on your travel bucket list. You can also add candied yam, chicken or sesame cakes to your own thanksgiving feast to make it more exotic.

What other harvest festivals or thanksgiving celebrations can you add to this list? Tell us more in the comment box below.