All around the world, the concept of thanksgiving is celebrated and different cultures have their own versions of the holiday, when people come together to celebrate the things and people they are thankful for. Different countries including Korea, Germany, China, Brazil, Canada, and South India, celebrate holidays similar to Thanksgiving.
People’s gratitude and hope carry on through their many holidays in different ways. For example, Japan has a holiday similar to Thanksgiving. It is called Labor Thanksgiving Day previously known as The Shinto Rice Harvest Ceremony.
America’s neighboring country Canada also celebrates their own version of Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October because the harvest season comes and ends much earlier than it does in America.
Germany celebrates Erntedankfest which is a rural festival to celebrate their harvest. Although machines have taken over their harvest. the people still celebrate the festival. It includes church services, a parade, and a presentation of a harvest crown to a Harvest Queen.
Korea’s thanksgiving is known as Chuseok. On August 15th Koreans do various rituals and give offerings to their ancestors in order to welcome the harvest season. Families meet to celebrate the harvest and give gifts to each other.
In Barbados, communities give thanks with a festival that lasts six-12 weeks after the end of their sugarcane harvest season. This tradition is over 300 years old and originated from the people who used to work on the sugarcane plantations. The celebration includes singing, dancing, drinking competitions, feasting, and a competition to climb up a greased pole.
The people of South India have a four day festival celebrating the god of sun, nature, and any animal that supports agriculture. This festival is usually celebrated in January, also known as the Tamil month of Tai. Pongal is a traditional South Indian dish that the Tamil people see as a symbol of prosperity of abundance and affluence.
Students of different ethnicities were asked about some of their own thanksgiving traditions; Sofie Gaevaya, a junior at Leonia High School talks about her experience of a Russian Thanksgiving, she explains “We have this thing called, selyotka pod shuboy, which is tuna layered with cooked beat, carrot, and mayo, holodetz (meat jelly), potatoes, caviar, mesnoy salat (salad mixed with peas, mayo, dill pickles, baloney, and onion), a platter of vegetables, selyotka (salty fish), and turkey. For traditions, we watch a movie after dinner, say what we are grateful for, cook together, and just talk as a family.”
In addition, Junior Katerina Romanides states, “I gather every year with my family to make pasteles, it is a tradition I look forward to.” Thanksgiving is a holiday to look forward to from the food to the people, and the traditions you have in your family.
In Leonia, we have a large Korean community and for Chuseok, most families cook large feasts and spend time with their families.
According to Hye-Won Kim ’24, “Chuseok is more of a fall harvest festival based on the lunar calendar. Our church sets up an altar for us so we don’t have to do it at home. There is the bowing to ancestors, an altar set up with all the food offerings to the ancestors, and then you eat the food.”
Senior Caroline Kim says her family eats a lot of food for Chuseok and “sometimes we get together with other people who are part of the Korean Church.”
Grace Jung ’24 said, “One time, we made rice cakes together [for Chuseok]. It takes a lot of effort because you have to pound the rice first. It was just the one time we made them though.”
Not only is Thanksgiving celebrated by America, but all over the world, connecting people with who and what matters the most, their loved ones and their appreciation. These holidays all may be called different things and we all might speak different languages, but the hope and gratitude is the same.
Written by Emma Widensky ’25 and Emma Vasquez ’25
Photo Credit: Emily Ignacio ’27