Thanksgiving Traditions

thanksgivingThe holiday season is approaching fast. Many people see Thanksgiving as the official start of the holiday season because Santa is the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, holiday music starts playing on radio stations, and stores use Black Friday to start sales on items. While Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday, do other cultures have a similar tradition?

Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday. This means that other countries around the world do not celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day we do, and sometimes it is not even a holiday at all. In America, the Pilgrims were the first to celebrate in order to thank the Native Americans from Plymouth, Massachusetts for teaching them how to harvest the land. “The Pilgrims had the first Thanksgiving, because they wanted to give thanks to Squanto and the Native Americans for teaching them how to do things and live life in different ways, not just the ways the Pilgrims used to live like” (Meaning of Thanksgiving Day). Because of this history, Thanksgiving Day is about expressing gratitude for what we have in our lives.

As I stated earlier, some nations celebrate Thanksgiving on different days. For example, Canada has celebrated Thanksgiving in February since 1838 (Huffington Post). This celebration was started in February because it was when the rebellion in Canada ended, so Canada was considered one country (Huffington Post). While this is one reason, Canada celebrates Thanksgiving for many reasons that can change depending on what year it is. “After confederation, Thanksgiving was usually held for “blessings of an abundant harvest,” but some specific occasions were marked with the holiday, such as the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 or, you know, “to continue God’s mercies” (Huffington Post).

In China, the culture believes that the moon is just as important as harvesting the Earth. The Chinese have a traditional August Moon festival to celebrate when the moon is at its fullest and brightest in the lunar cycle (Thanksgiving Around the World). In America, Thanksgiving is about celebrating a fruitful harvest; in China, they “celebrate August Moon festival that falls on the 15th day of 8th lunar month of their calendar, also known as Women Festival. Conventionally women are considered similes to warm and compassionate virtues and have the gift of fertility, just like Mother Earth” (Thanksgiving Around the World). This festival, much like Thanksgiving, has its own dessert, “ the Chinese delicacies consist of moon-cake” (Thanksgiving Around the World).

Romans have a history of celebrating different gods and goddesses. In Roman culture there is a Goddess of Corn known as Ceres (Thanksgiving Around the World). Similar to American culture, the harvest season is about the food that is collected, which includes corn. “Cerelia was celebrated in the honor of the deity Ceres. Their festival commenced on October 4th and it was a custom to first produced fruits, grains and animals to the Goddess” (Thanksgiving Around the World).

While it stands that Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday that started with the Pilgrims, it is important to remember why we still celebrate to this day. While every family may have a different tradition or different meal, every family is celebrating for the same reason. Other cultures have similar traditions and festivals, “the only difference in the festivals is date, rituals and customs but the reason behind it remains the same, to thank God for a huge fruitful harvest” (Thanksgiving Around the World).


Submitted by Erin Schiels


Answers. Why Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving? Retrieved from November 15, 2013.

Huffington Post Canada. Thanksgiving in Canada: Reasons We Celebrated in the Past. Retrieved from November 15, 2013.

Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Around the World. Retrieved from November 18, 2013.

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