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The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Thanksgiving: A Celebration All Around the World

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Alicia Bruce

On the fourth Thursday of November, people in America gather for the celebration of Thanksgiving with a feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, and the sweet richness of apple pie. On the television, a live football game or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is blasting on full volume for everyone in the house to hear.  After the lively Thanksgiving celebration, all are left content with a full stomach and heart.

But as much as Thanksgiving is a western holiday with English-Pilgrim-origins,  it is celebrated in different forms by many other countries around the world as a day of expressing gratitude. Often, they fall on months of the year different from America’s traditional Thanksgiving day. Here are 5 countries that celebrate Thanksgiving with their unique, cultural characteristics. 

Zhong Qiu Jie

Zhong Qiu Jie, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, is the closest Chinese holiday equivalent to Thanksgiving.  On the 15th of the Chinese lunar calendar’s 8th month, the moon is believed to be at its fullest, falling at the same time as the mid-autumn harvest. Its origins date back to over 3,000 years ago, based on the legend of Chang’e and Houyi. For those interested, China Highlights retells the tale with regard for its varied versions.

During this three day festival, family and friends come together, the full moon symbolizing a family reunion. Streets are filled with dancing fabric dragons or lions and floating sky lanterns of bright colors. An important food to eat on this day is the mooncake. It’s a round dessert with various types of filling, from the traditional white lotus paste to red bean to even pork.

Erntedankfest

In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the harvest celebration of Erntedankfest is held in late September or early October. It varies from a week to a day based on the region, and on this day, there is much parade, music, and church services. It is often greatly tied to religious services, mainly in the larger cities where the fest will begin with a church observance and choir. 

Instead of a turkey, some German regions eat fattened chicken, or masthühnchen. The traditional German dishes of rouladen with gravy, red cabbage, and potato dumplings follow. Unlike most Thanksgiving celebrations, Erntedankfest is a very communal holiday that is celebrated on the streets for everyone to share the joy. 

Chuseok

Chuseok is a three-day mid-autumn harvest festival celebrated in South Korea on the 15th of the lunar calendar’s 8th month, falling on the same day as China’s Zhong Qiu Jie fest.  On this day, families come together to eat a variety of foods and celebrate a year of good harvest.  

Korea’s traditional rice cake dessert, songpyeon, is a must-eat on this holiday. Also called the half-moon shaped rice cake, its sweetened sesame seed fillings are enveloped by a yellow, purple, green, white, or pink rice cake. 

Another important aspect of this holiday is the commemoration of the dead. Families display plates of foods to offer for their ancestors, accompanied by the ancestor memorial services at home. Families also visit their graves to tidy the area and remove weeds. 

 

Homowo  

In the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, Homowo is celebrated at the end of April into the month of May. To remember their historical famine and its overcoming, the people plant crops before the rainy season begins. It dates back to the migration of the Ga people into Ghana, where they faced misfortunes along the journey.  

Before the festival officially begins, the sowing rite of wheat, Nmaadumo, is performed by the seven priests of the Gamashie people. The Nmaadumo is a highly complex ritual; each day of the week for 7 days, a priest will sow the wheat in a specific order. During the process, a noise ban is set, which is only later put to an end with a specific drum beating. 

All around the world, no one is shut out from this festive holiday. Whether it be based on the lunar or solar calendar, in the early months of April or late November, families and friends come together to feast on their traditional delicacies with a day off from school, work, and businesses. Thankfully, this long-awaited holiday is just around the corner and golden turkeys are beginning to be displayed at nearby markets. So, get ready for a delicious feast and a day of joy! Happy Thanksgiving! 

 

 

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About the Contributor
Jehee Nam, Staff Writer
Jehee Nam ('27) is a Staff Writer for The Echo. She worked as a copyeditor for Tiger Tales, the TMS school newspaper and is excited to continue her work as a writer. In her spare time she enjoys listening to a variety of music and talking to her friends.