Thanksgiving originated in the fall of 1621, when Pilgrims celebrated their first successful wheat crop. The holiday has since evolved into a day where families and friends get together to drink alcohol, eat turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and tons of more food and dessert, lounging for hours in front of the television to watch football and the parade, and of course getting ready for Black Friday. Of course, this is the American version of Thanksgiving, and we are not the only culture to celebrate this day of grace and gluttony. Take a look at the different ways other countries celebrate what we know as Thanksgiving – Explore other Thanksgiving celebrations around the world!
1. China: “Chung Chiu” Moon Festival
Families gather on the 15th day of the eighth lunar cycle to celebrate the autumn harvest. They celebrate with a three-day feast, eating mooncakes, sweet cakes filled with sesame seeds, ground lotus seeds, and duck eggs. The center is filled with a salty yolk to represent the full moon. The Chinese usually exchange these as a sign of unity and peace.
2. United Kingdom: Harvest Festival
Back in the day, Saxon farmers would offer the first cut sheaf of corn and a sacrificial animal to one of their fertility gods to ensure a bountiful harvest. The “Spirit of the Corn” lived in that cut of corn, and the tradition of making plaited corn dolls to hang in rafters each year began in order to protect the harvest. Today, the English continue to make the corn dolls, and they celebrate the harvest with a feast with that season’s produce. Some children bring fruit and vegetables to schools and churches, which get distributed to the elderly and poor.
3. Germany: Erntedankfest
Celebrated in September or October, the day begins with a sermon, followed by a ceremony in which a traditional harvest crown is presented to the harvest queen, Ernteknigin. The Germans then celebrate the day with music, dancing, and fruits and vegetables from the harvest. The food that isn’t used is given to the needy. Instead of a turkey like in America, the Germans fatten up chickens for the holiday. In some places in Germany, there are even fireworks at night to complete the celebration.
4. Canadian Thanksgiving
Canada actually celebrated Thanksgiving even before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth. When an explorer named Martin Frosbisher arrived in Newfoundland, Canada, in 1578, he celebrated with a small feast to give thanks for his arrival in the new world. Today, Canadians celebrate this on the second Monday of October. They celebrate earlier than Americans because their harvest season ends earlier than America’s. However, the celebration is very similar to the way America celebrates, with the gathering of families around tables with turkey, stuffing, and pies.
5. Ghana: Homowo, or Yam Festival
Yams are usually present in the homes of Americans’ during Thanksgiving. They are also a major crop in Ghana. This festival day is actually dedicated yams! To ward against famine and to thank the spirits for a bountiful harvest, Ghanians gather to celebrate the important tuber, which are unearthed to be blessed by the chief. They begin with a ceremony to honor the dead, twins, and triplets in the country. They dance and feast on special yam dishes.