Thanksgiving Around The World

Hi readers, welcome to Monday again! 🙂 How was your weekend? My weekend was great! Mom, Dad, and my brother visited me. Although they just spent a night here, but we really had a great time. They arrived at Saturday from Semarang by car. At afternoon we went to Tangerang, visited my uncle. At Sunday morning, they need to back to Semarang. After my family went home, me and my husband went to Plaza Semanggi because I have to pick up my preorder book “Nothing to Envy, Ordinary Lives in North Korea” (Yeay! Finally I got this book! :D). After that, we had lamb chop for lunch, aahhh my favorite one! 🙂 The last, we visited my (another) uncle in Bekasi, then stopped by for a while in Bekasi Square (hunting for Levi’s discount but it’s quite dissapointing :D).

In this morning, I feel very lively to start this week since my last weekend was great. 🙂 During Monday meeting, my manager said that today is Korean Thanksgiving day. I wonder how’s that? Then in office account web, I found an article about Korean Thanksgiving day. It’s quite interesting anyway, then I became curious about another country which also celebrate Thanksgiving and what is like? After searched for a while, I found some articles, so today I want to share about Thanksgiving around the world. And maybe I need to celebrate Thanksgiving for my perfect weekend? Hahaha 😀

Thanksgiving is essentially a harvest related festival. It celebrates communal harmony. Though it is said to have been originated in America, a number of other countries celebrate harvest related festivals. *It means I can’t celebrate Thanksgiving only for my great weekend :P*. They are observed with different names and in different seasons.

Harvest related festivals, all the over the world are characterized with lot of fun and merrymaking. Each region has its unique customs and traditions to jubilate the occasion.

Canada celebrates thanksgiving on the second Monday in the month of October. India also has a number of harvest related festivals in different regions. Popular regional festivals are Pongal, Baisakhi, Lohri, Onam etc. Though the underlying principle behind each of them is same, every festival is exclusive and different from the other.

Other Asian countries such as China, Malaysia, Korea celebrate the festival on different dates. Each festival has a folklore attached to it. Harmony, peace, feeling gratitude is the underlying theme of the celebration all over.

Thanksgiving in United State

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated with lot of fervor and merry-making in America. Celebrated on the fourth Thursday in the month of November every year, it is a time for communal thanksgiving, feeling gratitude, lavish feasts. It is a time to remember the pilgrims. The original pilgrims celebrated the autumn harvest with a feast of thanks. The feast popularly known as the ‘First Thanksgiving Day Feast’ was held as a gesture of thanks to almighty God . It was celebrated in the year 1621. After the United States gained independence, Congress recommended one yearly day of thanksgiving for the whole nation to celebrate.

Tribute to Native Indians

Until recently, people believed Thanksgiving Day to be a celebration of pilgrims, offering food to Indians. It however is a day marked as a gesture of thanks and gratitude to Lord almighty for his blessings. It is also a celebration to mark the respect towards Indians for teaching the pilgrims how to cook. Pilgrims could not have survived without the help of the native Indians.

Time for celebrating Traditional Harvest
Thanksgiving Day is a time of festivity, family meals and reunions in America. Carved turkeys, Pumpkin Pie, Corns, Cranberry Sauce are the traditional dishes adorning the dinner tables in almost every house. A time for feasting, Thanksgiving Day epitomizes the holiday mood of people.

Tradition of Gifting
Thanksgiving is a time for gifting your family and friends. The day is a time to show your gratitude and respect to your elders, friends, your siblings and also your colleagues. Popular gifts include thanksgiving flowers, jewellery, baked cookie hampers, chocolate gift baskets, candy-wreaths, wine etc.

Black Friday and Festive Spirit 
Thanksgiving day is the official beginning of the Christmas season. USA witnesses maximum sales volume on the very nest day. The following Friday after thanksgiving is famously known as ‘Black Friday’. This is so, because of the standard accounting practice of writing profits in black. The ongoing festive spirit, shopping spree, helps the shopkeepers to register maximum sales and profits. The entire atmosphere during the time is euphoric, people get in a holiday mood. Families visit restaurants, amusement parks, gift each other, decorate their house etc.

Thanksgiving in Canada

 People of Canada celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in the month of October every year. It is celebrated to thank the Lord Almighty for a bountiful harvest. America however celebrates thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year. The reason behind the difference is geographical; autumn season starts earlier in Canada than in America.

History of First Canadian Thanksgiving
The first Canadian thanksgiving was celebrated on 15th April 1872 to thank the recovery of King Edward VII from serious illness. The next thanksgiving was celebrated after a few years in 1879 on a Thursday.

Canada later, had a turbulent time deciding the day of national Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was celebrated on a Thursday in November between 1879 and 1898. It was later celebrated on a Thursday in October between 1899 and 1904. Thereafter, it was celebrated on a Monday in the month of October. This was between the period of 1908-1921. In later years, thanksgiving came to be celebrated on ‘Armistice Day’. This was however, amended in 1931. Finally on January 31, 1957, Parliament announced the second Monday in the month of October as the official ‘Thanksgiving Day’. It was declared as “a day of general Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”

Canadian Thanksgiving Celebration

The thanksgiving celebrations include parades, customary ‘family feast’ and ‘turkey’. It is a time for sharing, loving and family reunions. The central idea behind the celebration is to be thankful for the past harvest and praying for the coming year.

Thanksgiving in India

Thanksgiving is celebrated world over with equal fervor and euphoria. It conveys the universal feeling of being thankful to Lord Almighty for his continuous grace. India is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and a secular country; also popular for its spirituality, God loving and God fearing people. It is known for its ‘Unity in Diversity’. With the spread of westen culture, Thanksgiving is celebrated in quite a few parts of India, the major festivity is however, observed by Christians in the state of Goa.

Thanksgiving Day Celebration in Goa
Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated in the state of Goa, with a different name. Thanksgiving is popularly known as‘Ladin’ or ‘Ladainha’ in India. ‘Ladin’ literally means a litany to the Virgin Mary. During the Thanksgiving ritual, people thank God for all the material and spiritual benefits. The Thanksgiving function is sponsored by a different person every year who either seeks benefits or has been lucky enough to have God’s special grace. Christians start preparing for Thanksgiving celebrations by purchasing wheat and gram, candles, wine and colored tinsel paper. A temporary platform/altar is constructed which is decorated with flowers, vines and creepers. Celebrations also include singing of hymns and prayers. The village local violinist/choirmaster conducts the entire show of singing of litany.

Religious Feast of Thanksgiving in Goa
Another celebration associated with the feeling of Thanksgiving, is the popular religious feast of conception of Mother Mary. It is a time for farmers to cut the first harvest of milk-filed corn from the rice field and offer it to God. This is done to seek God’s blessing for a good harvest in the coming season. Though the date of celebrations varies in different parts of Goa, but generally it is celebrated on the 15th of August every year.

Thanksgiving in Korea

Chu Seok (Korean : 추석 ) is a popular Korean Festival during the harvest season. Based on their history, Chuseok may originate from ancient shamanistic celebrations of the harvest moon. The festival is also celebrated as a mark of respect to elders. Families visit their ancestral properties in home towns. It is a time for feasting and happiness for Koreans. Offerings are made of newly harvested foods. Songp’yon, crescent-shaped rice cakes stuffed with sesame seeds, chestnut paste or beans, are a Chu Suk favorite.

Koreans hold memorial services at the grave sites of the elderly. Kang Kang Sue Wol Lae, a traditional ceremony is observed a night before Chu Suk. Womenfolk gather in circles and sing songs to mark the festival. It is a time to be thankful to God and each other. Activities like archery, wrestling, singing competitions are a common feature of this Korean harvest festival.

They also have a unique way to put foods on the table, here it is :

Memorial service table has 5 rows,

  • 1st : rice and soup, Songpyun
  • 2nd row : fish on the right, meat on the left, fish head is on the right; the tail goes to the left
  • 3rd row : fish soup. tofu soup, meat stew, etc
  • 4th row : dried fish on the far left, SikHye drink on the far right
  • 5th row : jujube, chesnut, pear, persimmon from the left or red fruits on the right and while goes to the left.

A note for preparing table :

  • Do not put red pepper powder and garlic seasoning
  • Do not use red beans

Woow, it quite complicated but interesting, right? 🙂

Thanksgiving in Malaysia

Malaysia is situated in the central south-east Asia. The Kadazan harvest festival of Malaysia is celebrated by sabah every year in the month of May to thank their favourite Rice God. The festival is locally known as “Tadau ka’amatan”. Tapai, the homemade rice wine is distributed generously among localities who wear their traditional costumes to mark the festival. Carnivals are an important feature during the festival.

Localites believe ‘Without Rice’ there is no life. Malaysians revere Bambaazon-the overall creator and thus revere his spirit in the rice plant and cooked rice. It is a time for lots of activities, cultural programs and agricultural shows, buffalo races and traditional games.

Thanksgiving in Africa

African harvest festivals have a lot of religious connotations. African harvest festivals are characterized with lot of dancing and singing. Dancers wear traditional masks and outfits. Each dance sequence unfolds a unique story. Festival of Yams is a popular harvest festival celebrated with days of ceremonies and offerings to God and ancestors. It is later distributed among the village folk. It is usually held in the month of August, marking the end of rainy season.

Thanksgiving in Australia

Apple and grape harvest festival is celebrated in the month of March in the granite belt. The festival is celebrated for 3-4 days. Various cultural and fun events are organised everyday to mark the occasion. Grape crushing competitions, apple competitions, street carnivals, grand parade are some of the attractions. Splendid display of fireworks is another feature of the festival. It ends with the crowning of ‘apple n grape’ ambassador. Other important festivals include orange week festival, cane and wheat festival.

Thanksgiving in United Kingdom

‘Harvest Festival’ as is popularly known, is one of the oldest festivals in United Kingdom. It began in churches in the year 1843, when Robert Hawker invited local parishioners to a special thanksgiving service at a church in Cornwall. This resulted in the custom of decorating churches with home-grown products. In the old times, the success of crops determined the success or failure of the people. The natives of UK, pleased the God of fertility by offering him the first sheaf of corn. This was done to ensure a good harvest in the coming season. The ritual of offering an animal sacrifice, generally a hare, is accompanied with the cutting of last sheaf of corn. It is said that the last sheaf of corn contains its spirit. “corn dolls” are made to symbolize Goddess of grain. The entire community is invited for a celebratory dinner as part of the festivity. It is held every year in the month of September, on a Sunday nearing the harvest moon. This festival is however not declared a national holiday.

The celebrations continue till date in the rural communities. Children sing hymns, and gift fruits and vegetables. Distribution of fruits and vegetables also takes place in local communities.

That’s all about Thanksgiving day, hopefully it may increase our knowledge about others culture. In Indonesia, we do not celebrate thanksgiving nationally, but in some parts of this country there are several “look a like” thanksgiving ceremony and has their own date. Such as Dewi Sri festival in Central Java, Seren Taun in West Java, Grebeg Syawal in Yogyakarta, Sekaten in Solo, Larung tradition that is used to hold by the people who live near the beach or the fishermen, Minahasa Thanksgiving and Sangihe festival in North Sulawesi. Poor me, as a javanese, I never see what is Dewi Sri festival? I only know about Sekaten and Grebeg Syawal, but unfortunately I think the soul of “harvest” is fading away, even I did not realize that those festivals were about harvest ceremonial before. They were more like a night market which has some playground for kids and people sells anything.

Thank’s to my friend Joice who gave 1st comment about Thanksgiving day in Indonesia, so I edit this article after I searched about Thanksgiving in Indonesia. 🙂

Source :


About Pradini Puspitaningayu

a big, big, big dreamer

Posted on September 12, 2011, in Knowledge. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You also can find THanksgiving in Indonesia, especially in Manado

  2. Wow, nice info Jo, thank you for sharing. My bad, lackness in knowledge. 😦
    Maybe it should be nice if we celebrate thanksgiving nationally?

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