5 Countries that Also Celebrate Thanksgiving3 min read
As far as true-blue, all-American holidays are concerned, Thanksgiving Day is second only to the Fourth of July — though some of our favorite narratives about its historical precedent might not be entirely accurate.
But whether or not the Pilgrims ate turkey or personally invited the Native Americans to come along, the holiday remains a cherished moment set aside for an attitude we too often forget to inhabit: gratitude.
Along with being thankful for our blessings, Thanksgiving Day gives us an opportunity to gather together with loved ones, sharing food and fun with families both born and chosen.
Although it’s an undeniably American celebration, plenty of other countries observe a similar day of gratitude. In fact, some foreign countries actually celebrate our own.
5 Countries That Celebrate Their Own Thanksgiving Day
Want to see how the rest of the world gives thanks? Here’s how the holiday operates in a few other countries.
Canadian Thanksgiving is pretty hard to distinguish from the version celebrated south of the border. It’s celebrated on the second Monday of October (rather than the third Thursday of November), and it’s only been an official holiday since 1879 (as opposed to our 1789). Families congregate around tables laden with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and squash dishes. And for dessert, there’s pumpkin pie.
Of course, regional dishes might also make an appearance, including fish, wild game, and the scrumptious no-bake concoctions known as Nanaimo bars. And the historical precedent of Canadian Thanksgiving, while not identical, is fairly similar. It commemorates a meal Martin Frobisher, an English explorer who searched for the Northwest Passage in 1578, had after a long and arduous arctic adventure. He and his men dined well when they finally made landfall.
It’s no surprise that Germany observes a thanksgiving holiday around the harvest season. The country is well known for celebrating the earth’s bounty. It has a history of harvest festivals reaching back into antiquity. (Also, you know, Oktoberfest.)
The modern festival of Erntedankfest, which translates to “harvest festival of thanks,” is observed on the first Sunday of October. Rather than gathering around tables at home, German families take to the streets for a communal celebration complete with music, dancing, church services… and, of course, lots of delicious food.
The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is held each year on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar — sometime between mid-September and early October. It centers on three important concepts: gathering, giving thanks, and praying. Celebrants consume mooncakes, a pastry filled with sweet bean or lotus paste, and light bright, colorful lanterns that may be carried or set afloat in the sky.
It is said the moon is brightest on this night, making it a good time for reconnecting with loved ones, asking the gods for favors, and even falling in love. The holiday is a favorite for celebrating weddings. In some parts of China, young people hold dances to meet and mingle.
Freed slaves who returned to Liberia in the 1820s brought the American Thanksgiving tradition along with them, and it became an official holiday in the country a few decades later. However, unlike the traditional celebration held in the States, Liberia celebrates its Thanksgiving on the first Thursday of November. Roast chicken, mashed cassava, and — of course — green bean casserole fill their tables.
This West Indian island’s version of Thanksgiving is considerably younger than the rest on this list; it dates back to October 25, 1983, when the U.S. Army came to the country after the execution of the socialist Grenadian Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop. Soldiers mentioned the upcoming holiday and the islanders prepared the feast exactly as they had described it, presenting them with turkey, stuffing, gravy — the whole nine yards. Today, Grenada still celebrates the holiday on October 25 of each year.
No matter where you’re from or where you find yourself this autumn, we hope you’re inspired to take a moment and reflect on gratitude in your own life. This world is a pretty amazing place, after all… and we get to explore it. It’s easy to be thankful for that.