While particularly big in the United States and Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated in quite a few countries across the world. The day happens to coincide with the end of the harvest season, and this is seen as a theme across countries. People get together to show gratitude for the season’s harvest, usually celebrating by attending religious ceremonies and hosting gatherings with feasts at homes. The holiday has also been extensively commercialised, with sales lined up across the board, notably Black Friday, which is the Friday following Thanksgiving.
Read on to see how people in different countries celebrate Thanksgiving:
In the United States, the festival of Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. This marks the beginning of the holiday season, with Thanksgiving being followed by Christmas and the end of the year. In the United States, the holiday is dedicated to the Pilgrim’s meal with the Native Americans, with the Native Americans welcoming the Pilgrims. It also celebrates the harvest, which is something common across countries when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving. There are public as well as private celebrations – private celebrations mostly in the form of family gatherings and meals and public celebrations mostly in the form of events at malls, food festivals, parades, and even skiing-centered events!
In Canada, Thanksgiving is slightly earlier, marked for the second Monday of every October. This, in Canada, marks the end of the harvest season, and serves as a way to give thanks for it. It is usually celebrated similar to the United States, with feasts held at homes and family gatherings. There are also public parades that are widely attended and looked forward to. Just like in the United States, people indulge in shopping, and the festival is seen as a holiday to visit loved ones.
Grenada, an island country in the West Indies, celebrates Thanksgiving on the 25th of October every year. Unlike its American and Canadian counterparts, neither does the holiday mark the close of the harvest season, nor the integration of natives with pilgrims. The holiday commemorates the day when the US military intervened and helped stabilise the country’s volatile political climate. Thanksgiving is seen as a day to give thanks for the American invasion.
Liberia is a nation in West Africa, the origin of which can be traced back to individuals from the United States that turned the nation into a home for individuals who were formerly slaves in the United States. It is for this reason that the country observes Thanksgiving as a national holiday. The Liberian citizens who were former American slaves carried forward the tradition after moving to Liberia. It is mostly celebrated by going to the church and offering fruits, giving thanks for the harvest, and having a gathering where a feast is laid out.
One city in the Netherlands in particular is famous for celebrating Thanksgiving: Leiden. Thanksgiving in Leiden coincides with the day Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States. The Pilgrims on their route were sheltered in Leiden, where they stayed for a few years, and to honour their memory, Thanksgiving is celebrated in Leiden, usually with a service at a Church and the American Ambassador in attendance.
Philippines was a former American colony, and owing to that status, it historically celebrated Thanksgiving on the same day that Americans did. After independence, it wasn’t celebrated for a while until in 1969, the then president changed the date of the celebration to September 21 of every year. While it no longer has the status of a public holiday, Thanksgiving in the Philippines, like many other countries, is celebrated commercially, with special sales and events all around the country.
Australia (Norfolk Island)
Norfolk Island in Australia is a small island in the Pacific Ocean that falls under the territory of Australia. Long ago, many Americans found themselves on the island for the sole purpose of whaling, given how popular the island was for whaling. Some of the Americans who had settled there started celebrating Thanksgiving, introducing food and other aspects of American culture. The people of Norfolk Island now celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Wednesday of every November, usually in the same form as other places: with a big feast.
That’s correct! Parts of India and other countries nearby, too, celebrate Thanksgiving as Thai Pongal (Makar Sankranti in some parts). It is seen as a festival to give thanks and celebrate at the end of the harvest festival. In Goa, Thanksgiving is particularly popular as a religious festival, with feasts and religious services held across the state.
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