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Thanksgiving: 3 Ways Other Cultures Give Thanks! 

Thanksgiving Day is a big holiday in the United States, occurring on the fourth Thursday of November. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving have been celebrated by American families with turkeys, football, and most importantly; family. But do other cultures have Thanksgiving? And if so, how do they celebrate it?

1. Well, some cultures have their own form of Thanksgiving, just celebrated on a different day. Like Germany! The German equivalent of Thanksgiving is Erntedankfest, which translates to “harvest festival of thanks”. This religious holiday often takes place on the first Sunday in October. Different places mark the occasion on various dates throughout September and October. Rural areas of Germany often take the harvest aspect of the holiday literally, but city churches also join in on the celebration, giving thanks for the good fortune their congregations were awarded that year. During a typical Erntedankfest, citizens may carry an Erntekrone (“harvest crown”) of grains, fruit, and flowers to the church, and feast on traditional meals like die Masthühnchen (fattened-up chickens). 

2. Another form of Thanksgiving is found in the Netherlands. It’s a little known fact that of the English settlers who traveled to the New World on the Mayflower, about 40% spent the years 1609 to 1620 living and working in the Dutch city of Leiden. As a result, some argue that the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving celebration was actually based off of Leiden’s annual commemoration of the breaking of the Spanish siege in 1574. In any case, the people of today’s Leiden continue to celebrate their ties with the Mayflower’s passengers by holding non-denominational church services on the fourth Thursday of November. 


3. Some other cultures actually celebrate the same Thanksgiving as we do! Take Puerto Rico; After it became a territory of the United States in the late 19th century, its residents happily adopted many of the traditions of the American Thanksgiving. They celebrate it on the same day and embrace the same Black Friday shopping craziness on the following day. But Puerto Ricans have put their own delightful twist on the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast: There is normally turkey—whether a roasted, seasoned pavochón or a turkey stuffed with mofongo (a mashed plantain dish)—but roast pork is also a common item on the menu, accompanied with more plantains, rice and beans. Sounds delicious! 


As we’ve discussed, many cultures have their own form of Thanksgiving and the traditions that come with it. Each celebration is treasured and should always be treated with the utmost respect, which is why it’s important to educate yourself and others on other traditions and how to respect them! Thanksgiving is a holiday of being grateful for what you have, so take a moment to reflect on your life right now, and give thanks for everything you hold dear. 


Happy Thanksgiving! 

Written by Tiffany Brooks


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