Thanksgiving Around the World
I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season. I just finished my traditional meal of turducken, which I started enjoying when I lived in New Orleans. I have to tell you that I also tried the Pringles potato chips with the turducken flavor. This year’s version includes turkey flavored chips, a duck flavored chip and a chicken flavored chip which of course, are stackable to get the turducken sensation. This is an advance on last year’s version which had turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie flavors in three different packages.
Thanksgiving is not a holiday that is solely a United States holiday. Granted our Thanksgivings include turkey, stuffing and vegetables while watching football games, but around the world the Thanksgiving tradition includes the harvesting of indigenous foods at the time that they are most harvestable. An additional aspect about Thanksgiving around the world is they are not necessarily in the fall months. It depends on when the harvest season is for that particular country.
People from Malaysia, for example, believe that life is nothing without rice so they celebrate the Kadazan Festival. This festival worships rice, which they believe is an extension of the creator. There is history behind this tradition. The story goes that God sacrificed his daughter to save his people from famine. He buried parts of her all over the land, which became the original growth basis for rice paddies. Although it seems that this would be an unhappy celebration, it is not; it is celebrated with rice wine and considered a beautiful day for the Creator who had made the ultimate sacrifice.
In Korea, the Chauseok Harvest festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar and is celebrated to respect elders and memorialize the ancestral roots of Korea. Besides spending time with family and friends, Koreans usually traditionally go back to their ancestral homelands to commemorate at their relatives’ gravesites. The traditional foods served at the celebration include rice
Germans celebrate Thanksgiving as a religious holiday. Like most Thanksgiving traditions it is centered on the year’s harvest of agriculture. The foods that are served are similar to what are served in the United States, but with the addition of a sweet bread with poppyseeds to bring a good year for the future. Much of the day is spent in church services for people that celebrate as Catholics or Protestants.
China celebrates Thanksgiving as a three-day festival in the fall each year. It is known as the Moon Festival, which celebrates the special power that the moon has in its culture. One of the traditional dishes is moon cakes, which are semi-sweet pastries made from pastry dough and red bean paste.
Israel celebrates the holiday between September and October. It is called Sukkah, which means “booths” in reference to the dwellings people lived in during the period of wandering for 40 years of travel through the desert, after slavery in Egypt. It also celebrates the autumn harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables and is celebrated using the lunar calendar, which means the dates change every year. This holiday lasts seven days.
India celebrates the holiday with a four-day celebration in the middle of January and consists of rice, sugarcane and turmeric. Each of the four days of the holiday is spent celebrating different aspects of their life. The first day is to celebrate Lord Indra, the ruler of the clouds which provides rain. The second day is dedicated to the Sun God. This is a traditional day with ceremonial clothes and traditional foods such as sugarcane, bananas and coconut. Additionally, the traditional offering of rice cooked in milk is made. The third day is set aside for the celebration of the cow. The cows are dressed up with beads and paraded around town. The final day is used to celebrate prosperity in the house and family. Traditionally, this is done with turmeric and rice washed in a specific way and laid on the ground with the Ponjal rice surrounding the turmeric.
Ghana, in Africa, celebrates the festival of the Homowo, also called The Festival of Yams. Unlike the other holidays mentioned in this article, this holiday is done to pray for the hope that the crops will be plentiful for the next year. This festival is celebrated in August or September, and as the name implies, centers around the yams that are a big part of their culture and food supply.