Thanksgiving brings countries together

Photo via Flickr under the Creative Commons license

For an entire lifetime, students have been hearing the story of Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims set out from England on the Mayflower toward the Americas, and when they arrived, they found that survival in this foreign continent would be difficult. The Pilgrims struggled to find food, but through the generosity of the local Native American tribes, the pilgrims were taught how to farm and cultivate crops, and so there was a bountiful harvest. To celebrate the fall harvest, the Pilgrims and the native tribes came together to share a grand feast: Thanksgiving. Or, so the story goes. 

But Thanksgiving is not a holiday that is celebrated worldwide. Since Thanksgiving revolves around the English colonists and the native tribes coming together in Massachusetts, it is strictly an American holiday. After all, it wouldn’t make sense if a family from Uzbekistan celebrated an event that happened 6,200 miles away!

There are other nations throughout the world that celebrate a holiday similar to Thanksgiving. It shouldn’t be too surprising that one of America’s neighbors, Canada, also celebrates the holiday. In Canada, Thanksgiving is very similar to an American Thanksgiving: pumpkin pie, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. The main difference is that it is celebrated on the second Monday in October, which is closer to the harvest moon. Canada celebrates the holiday because after the American War for Independence, Americans who supported the English during the war fled to Canada and brought their cultural traditions with them.

Countries don’t have to be close to the US to celebrate Thanksgiving. Japan celebrates the holiday Kinrō Kansha no Hi, or “Labor Thanksgiving Day.” This holiday is celebrated on November 23, and functions as a mix of Labor Day and Thanksgiving. It may seem shocking that Japan would celebrate an American holiday, but that is because it is a very recent holiday. Following the defeat of the Axis powers in the Second World War in 1945, Japan became occupied by American forces. These soldiers brought with them their holidays and their culture, and so, it spread to the people of Japan. Kinrō Kansha no Hi became an official holiday in 1948.

American influence also spread to other parts of the world through trade. On Norfolk Island, the Australians celebrate Thanksgiving. In the late 19th century, American traders would sail to Norfolk Island to conduct business, and in a similar way to the Japanese, the traders brought their culture with them. Now, these Australians celebrate a different form of Thanksgiving where they eat pork, chicken, bananas, and Pumpkin Pie, as well.

Although Thanksgiving is not celebrated world wide, people from all around the world know what Thanksgiving is about. Isabella Beduschi De Oliveia Rocha is one of Trinity’s Brazilian foreign exchange students. She is close to the city of São Paulo, which is the most populous city in South America with a population of about 12 million people.

Beduschi said that she “knows it’s November 28 and it’s a big dinner.”

Another foreign exchange student at Trinity is Timon Franke. Franke is from the German state Niedersachsen, which is in Northwest Germany.

Franke said that “Thanksgiving is about turkey and decorating your house with colored leaves!”

Both Rocha and Franke are excited for Thanksgiving. Rocha is most excited to try a pumpkin pie, but Franke misses his mother’s pumpkin soup.

Thanksgiving is a special holiday for most people, even those who do not live in the United States. The collective idea of being thankful for what one has is an idea that most people can appreciate and celebrate, which is why it is so widely respected throughout the world. Enjoy Trinity’s first break, and relish in the limitless servings of food over Thanksgiving!