Africa

6 Thanksgiving-Like Celebrations Around The World

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Thanksgiving table setting: cutlery on the autumn background with autumn leaves,ribbon on wooden background:Thanksgiving holidays background concept

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Thanksgiving Around The World

Nay, America is not the only country in the world to celebrate the harvest season with bountiful smorgasbords and cornucopias. In fact, other cultures in other countries celebrated this annual giving of thanks before the pilgrims ever landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Some of these holidays are religious, others are not, but they all involve giving thanks, celebrating a healthy harvest, and eating—a lot.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival in China

Moon cake, Chinese mid autumn festival dessert on wood board with dramatic morning scene

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This celestial holiday takes place during the 8th lunar cycle, when the moon is at its brightest and fullest. Much like the American Thanksgiving, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is celebrated by gathering with family and friends and gorging on a big feast consisting of mostly traditional treats.

Succoth

A sukkah in the desert. A sukkah is a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot. It is topped with branches and often the interior is decorated

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Beginning on the fifth day after Yom Kippur, Succoth, or the Feast of the Tabernacles, is a seven-day Jewish holiday celebration of the harvest. The word Succoth means hut, so it is common during this holiday for makeshift huts to pop up in which men can pray for a bountiful harvest. Orthodox Jews will spend all seven days in the hut.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Autumn table setting with pumpkins. Thanksgiving dinner and autumn decoration

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Our neighbors just to the north first celebrated their version of Thanksgiving in 1578 when the explorer Martin Frosbisher landed in Newfoundland, Canada. Having safely arrived in the New World a celebration was had to commemorate the illustrious occasion. Canadians celebrate the holiday virtually the same way Americans do, with family and food. They just do it a bit earlier, in the second week in October, because their harvest ends sooner up there.

Chuseok

Traditional Korean rice cake decorated with pine needle

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This autumnal holiday takes place in Korea, over the course of three days. Traditional little cakes are made from rice and a host of other ingredients, and eaten only after respects have been paid to the deceased. After a visit to the graveyard and sharing of stories, Koreans dance, play games, dress in traditional garb, and make merry. And take part in a glutinous feast.

Liberian Thanksgiving

traditional baked sweet cassava cake

Image: Shutterstock/Shirley Phoon

Since Liberia was founded by freed U.S. slaves, it should come as no surprise that many American customs found their way into the Liberian Thanksgiving. Liberians celebrate on the first Thursday of November, and the cassava is typically the cornerstone of the feast.

Homowo Festival

Group of Djembe drummer in Ghana, West Africa

Image: Shutterstock/Markus Gebauer

In Ghana, the Homowo Festival is an ancient celebration of the harvest. It usually takes place in August, although it depends on the time of the big harvest for the year. Yams run aplenty, as do okra, cassava and beans, all of which are heavily harvested in the region. Merry is made with dancing, singing, music, wrestling and of course, feasting.