Thanksgiving is widely considered an “American” holiday that is celebrated with family, feasts, and football. But this celebration of harvest, family, and thanks is not actually unique to the United States. Many other countries celebrate a similar holiday. Check out how they celebrate!
This small West African country was founded in the 1880’s as a result of an American attempt to resettle freed American Slaves in Africa. Liberians use the day to give thanks to God and for their freedom from slavery in America. And much like the rest of us Liberians give thanks for the good things in life even though the country has experienced periods of turmoil. The celebrations include feasts with family as well as singing and dancing! These feasts look a little different than an American feast though. Instead of turkey and mashed potatoes Liberians eat roasted chicken, green-bean casseroles, and mashed cassavas, staple foods of the Liberian diet. Read more here.
Chuseok (or Hangawi) is celebrated on the full harvest moon in Autumn. This holiday brings Korean families together for a three-day celebration to give thanks for their ancestors. On this holiday families hold memorial services for their ancestors and visit their ancestors graves to care for them. Korean women, dressed in Hanbok (traditional Korean clothes) dance in a circle to celebrate the full moon. Finally families join in a feast that features traditional Korean food. These feasts include Songpyeon- rice cakes filled with sesame seeds, beans, and chestnuts and Jeon- lightly fried slices of fish, meat, and vegetables. Read more here.
Iranians celebrate Mehregan- the autumn festival of harvest. This holiday is one of the oldest holidays celebrated in Iran. It dates back to the Persian empire. The holiday marks the harvest and the beginning of winter. Iranians celebrate by gathering with family and friends to pray, eat around a beautifully decorated tabled. This feast is followed by fireworks and bonfires! Read more here.
In Germany and other German-speaking countries including Austria and Switzerland people celebrate an autumn harvest festival known as Erntedankfest. A typical Erntedankfest celebration is a rural area includes church services, parades, and music. This holiday is celebrated in the cities with music, food, dancing, and sometimes fireworks! Unlike all the celebrations above, Erntedankfest is more of a religious holiday and not necessarily a time for families to come together. Read more here.
Brazilian Thanksgiving is called Dia de Acao de Gracas. Legend has it that this holiday was established in the 1940’s when then Brazilian President Gaspar Dutra heard about the American celebration from the Brazilian Ambassador. Originally this holiday looked exactly like a traditional American Thanksgiving but throughout the years Brazilians have injected their own flavor and culture into this celebration. Today Brazilians celebrate by first going to church to give thanks for the harvest, and then participating in carnivals or enjoying the day on the beach followed by a Thanksgiving meal. This meal might seem familiar: roast turkey, sweet potatoes, cornbread stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Brazilians substitute aboticaba sauce, a local fruit, for cranberries. Read more here.