Giving Thanks Around the World
In 1789 President George Washington declared the first nationwide Thanksgiving. Since then Americans have gathered around the dinner table with family and friends to eat turkey, and pie, and to give thanks.
But we are not the only ones to celebrate being thankful! Countries all over the world give thanks in unique ways influenced by agriculture, religion, and the lunar calendar. Read on to learn more about celebrations of thanks around the world!
China celebrates a Mid-Autumn Festival annually on the 15th day of the eighth lunar cycle of the year. The original customs of this event were moon-sacrificial ceremonies as prayers, poems, and offerings. Today, the people of China appreciate the moon and families are reunited to eat and give thanks. The main dish on the table is mooncakes, a delicate Chinese pastry.
Germany’s day of thanksgiving is known as Erntedankfest, a religiously dominated holiday on the first Sunday of October. To appreciate the year’s harvest, people attend church services and fill baskets with the crops to give to the poor. Laternenumzüge is a lantern parade for children in the evening. Everyone comes together to have a special meal with mohnstriezel, sweet poppyseed bread for dessert!
Ghana dedicates its appreciation day to hopefulness of plentiful crops in the upcoming year. Homowo, the Festival of the Yams, is celebrated in early autumn with singing and dancing in animal masks. Villages are brought together to see the largest crop harvest and share the bountiful prizes with everyone!
Malaysians believe there is no life without rice and during the Kaamatan Festival, rice is at the center of appreciation. Rice is worshiped as an extension of the Creator, Bambaazon, to be the source of thriving life on Earth. The origin story claims the Creator sacrificed his daughter to save the people from famine and from her burial, the seed of the rice paddy was made. While the story may be dark, the celebrations today are colorful and lively with rice wine, buffalo races, and agricultural shows.
India’s time of giving thanks is a four day celebration in mid-January throughout Southern India. Pongal is the harvest festival filled with gratitude for nature and gods. Rice, sugarcane, and turmeric are a few of the essential Indian ingredients harvested. The third day of this festival brings everyone together for a party!
Whether people are appreciating the moon, harvests, or religion, gratitude brings a reformed sense of peace and perspective for the world we live in. Travel teaches appreciation and acceptance for unknown traditions that may influence your life and bring tolerance to the world.
Happy Thanksgiving, however you may spend it!
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