5 Interesting “Versions” of Thanksgiving around the World

Thanksgiving around the world
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Thanksgiving, a time-honored tradition in the United States, is a special occasion dedicated to expressing gratitude for the blessings in our lives. However, this sentiment of thankfulness transcends borders and cultures, finding unique expressions in various Thanksgiving around the world. Let’s explore the rich tapestry of thanksgiving around the world that unite us in the spirit of gratitude.

Kadazan in Malaysia

Every year, the Kadazan festival is held on the 30th and 31st of May to express reverence and gratitude to the Bambaazon deity for blessing the Kadazan people in Malaysia with a bountiful harvest. This festival also serves as a way for the Kadazan people to take pride in their traditional rice production and cultural heritage. Furthermore, it’s an occasion for everyone in the Kadazan community to come together in unity.

On the first day of the festival, the Kadazan people celebrate by organizing traditional games such as buffalo racing, pumpkin boat racing, wrestling, and more. Some competitions like dancing, singing, and drinking contests are also held on this day. Speaking of drinks, participants in the festival have the opportunity to experience traditional Kadazan rice wines like Tapai, Hiing, and Talak. The second day of the festival sees the participation of various ethnic groups from the region, fostering cultural exchanges and strengthening camaraderie among different communities.

Chuseok in South Korea

Chuseok is one of the three major holidays in South Korea, alongside Lunar New Year (Seollal) and Dano. Chuseok is celebrated on the 15th day of the lunar month. On this day, family members from all directions gather to eat together, share stories, and express gratitude to their ancestors.

In the morning of Chuseok, family members perform ancestral rites (charye) followed by visiting ancestral graves (seongmyo). Traditional activities on this day may include mask dancing (talchum), Korean circle dance (ganggangsullae), Korean wrestling (ssireum), and folk music performances. The iconic dish of this holiday is the Korean-style rice cake called “songpyeon.” Koreans also have a tradition of making songpyeon together on this day, believing that those who make beautiful cakes will be lucky in finding a good life partner or giving birth to an adorable child.

Erntedankfest in German

This festival is typically held on the first Sunday of October, but depending on the harvest season of each region, some places may celebrate it later in October. The festival usually lasts for three days, starting with a procession on Friday evening. On the following Saturday, people decorate churches and attend dance parties. On the official holiday, which falls on Sunday, after the procession, participants enjoy a concert and indulge in local specialties.

The dishes served at the festival primarily consist of locally harvested clean produce, such as honey or wheat flour. In recent years, the Erntedankfest has seen the introduction of turkey, as American culture has become increasingly popular. After the festivities, people participate in a parade alongside traditional costumes, often accompanied by a tractor.

Sukkot in Israel

Sukkot is a Jewish festival that lasts for one week, celebrating the triumph of the harvest season and expressing gratitude to God for guiding and sustaining the Jewish community when they left Egypt in the past. The festival is usually held between late September and late October. The word “Sukkot” roughly translates to “booths” or “huts,” referring to the temporary dwellings where the Jewish people resided during their quest for independence.

Because of this, the activity of constructing these booths to reenact the past is an integral part of the festival. Israelis collectively build these sukkot in their yards or on their balconies during the festival. All family dining activities take place within these booths. Jewish people perform various rituals and engage in regular prayers inside the sukkah until the festival concludes.

Pongal in India

Pongal is a four-day festival celebrated in the Tamil Nadu province of India, from January 13th to January 16th (or January 14th to January 17th) every year, marking the culmination of the harvest season for crops like rice, sugarcane, turmeric, and various other agricultural produce. The festival’s significance lies in expressing gratitude for the abundant harvest. “Pongal” is the collective name for four smaller festivals within the four days: Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal, Mattu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal. “Pongal” means “boiling over,” which is also the characteristic activity of the festival, where people boil freshly harvested rice as an offering to the Sun God as a gesture of reverence.

On the first day of the festival, people clean their homes and burn unused items to create a bonfire by the end of the day. On the second day, in addition to boiling rice as an offering to the Sun God, people also decorate their homes in a distinctive style called “kolam,” using rice flour and clay. The third day is dedicated to showing gratitude to the cattle, especially bulls, for their significant role in plowing the fields. The bulls are adorned with garlands and bells as part of the ritual. On the final day, people gather for festivities to strengthen their relationships.

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Exploring the diverse versions of Thanksgiving celebrations around the world unveils a tapestry of gratitude and cultural richness that transcends borders. As we reflect on these global traditions, it’s a reminder that gratitude knows no bounds. In every corner of the world, people come together to appreciate the blessings life bestows upon them. It is this spirit of thanksgiving that unites us all, regardless of our backgrounds or beliefs.