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The Differences of Thanksgiving Around the World

We celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving to acknowledge the harvest and give thanks to the blessings of the past year. In America, Thanksgiving is rich in legend and history, as Americans believe the first Thanksgiving was a feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people. In America and Canada, Thanksgiving occurs on the fourth Thursday in November. In America, the typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie. In America, there are lots of unique traditions celebrated on Thanksgiving Day. Many families across the states sit together and watch football on Thanksgiving Day. Another tradition is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that has been around for about 97 years now. This tradition attracts millions of people to the streets of NYC as well as millions of online viewers nationwide. This parade includes hundreds of massive helium-filled balloons that children and adults alike enjoy watching float down the middle of New York City.

Germany has an equivalent to Thanksgiving known as Erntedankfest, which means the “harvest festival of thanks.” This religious holiday often takes place on the first Sunday in October, which is a significantly different time frame than in the United States. This holiday is celebrated in both the Catholic and Protestant churches and the alter is often decorated with wheat and fruits of the harvest. They sing and have a celebration in the church services on this day. After the night service, they have a lantern festival and sometimes even fireworks. Germany’s version of Thanksgiving is remotely different than in the United States, as Americans often associate fireworks with the Fourth of July.

Japan’s version of Thanksgiving, known as Kinro Kansha no Hi, meaning “Labor Thanksgiving Day,” actually evolved from an ancient rice harvest festival. This holiday is celebrated on November 23 every year. This tradition began a couple years after World War 2 stopped and is celebrated in honor of the rights of workers throughout Japan. There are no feasts on this day but instead events are held by labor organizations in which all citizens are encouraged to participate in. This day every year is thought of as a very “low-key” holiday as there are no banquets or celebrations unlike in the United States or Germany.

In Brazil, there is a legend that when the Brazilian Ambassador came back from a visit to the United States and witnessed an American Thanksgiving. They apparently implemented the idea in Brazil and named it, “Dia de Ação de Graças.” On the last Thursday in November, same as the US, they begin with a church service to give thanks for the harvest that was provided. They have a brilliantly good meal surrounded by family and friends, but there is no football. In Brazil, instead of football, they hold a giant party/carnival in which everyone parties and has a good time!

It is crazy to think of all the vast differences between countries and the way in which they celebrate Thanksgiving and all other holidays for that matter. Even though there are major differences it is important to remember what the meaning of Thanksgiving is, and that is to be grateful and give thanks.




Emily Weiland

Winthrop '24

Hey! My name is Emily Weiland and I am a sophomore Business Administration major.
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