Thanksgiving is a popular holiday in America, but have you ever wondered what this holiday is for? What is Thanksgiving all about? It is a day to celebrate harvest and for giving thanks for perceived blessings of the year. It is known as the celebration to instill gratitude in life. Thanksgiving is not just about holidays and good food; it’s also about being generous and grateful for the people you have in your life. It also marks the beginning of the holiday season. Although we associate Thanksgiving with the United States, other countries like Canada, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland also celebrate it. Though the idea behind is similar across the world, every country has its own unique ways of celebrating it. Let’s take a look at the different Thanksgiving traditions around the world.

7 Thanksgiving Traditions From Around The World

Come let’s understand what Thanksgiving Day means to people in different countries, what is the history of thanksgiving and when Thanksgiving is celebrated in each of these countries.


thanksgiving celebrations
Homemade Roasted Thanksgiving Day Turkey with all the Sides

Celebrated On: 4th Thursday of November

Of all the celebrations from around the world, America’s Thanksgiving is the most popular of them all. It marks the beginning of the winter American holiday season until the New Year celebrations. American Thanksgiving was first celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1624 to commemorate their first successful harvest. It was the then President Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day that was to be held every November. Thanksgiving has been celebrated ever since and the celebrations that you see today is an extension of the same fiesta. A typical American celebration includes a grand thanksgiving dinner with family and friends. Sharing a hearty plate of turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, sweet corn and assorted fall vegetables are all ways of being thankful for the past year. Other highlights of the American traditions include parades through the streets of New York, Broadway shows and football matches.


thanksgiving traditions
Happy family time at Thanksgiving

Celebrated On: 2nd Monday of October

Did you know the Canadian Thanksgiving celebration started almost 40 years before the first American Thanksgiving? The origin of this celebration also called “Action de Grace” dates back to 1578. It was first celebrated in Canada by Martin Frobisher and his crew to express gratitude for their safe return from a dangerous voyage. The Canadian Thanksgiving party is pretty much similar to the America celebrations that includes turkey and football. A meal with family and friends that includes dishes like turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and Brussels sprouts is the ideal way to celebrate. Other activities like the nationally televised football doubleheader called the Thanksgiving Day Classic is a popular way to spend your holiday. 


for thanksgiving dinner
Group of emotional young people enjoying dinner party with friends and smiling happily sitting at table in dimly lit room, copy space

Celebrated On: 4thThursday of November

The Brazilian Thanksgiving Day, also called Dia de ação de Gracas in Portuguese, is very similar to the celebrations in the US. This resemblance is because it was introduced to Brazil in the 1940’s by a Brazilian ambassador Joaquim Nabuco who was impressed by the concept and wished it to be celebrated in his country too. When he got back he requested the president at the time, Gaspar Dutra to introduce a similar celebration to mark the annual harvest season. As a result a festival called Dia de Ação de Graças was instituted on August 17, 1949 by the President. It’s not an officially recognized national holiday but some Brazilians and many Americans who live in Brazil consider this day to express gratitude for the bountiful harvest. Family and friends get together to eat turkey, along with corn stuffing and pumpkin pie and sweet mashed potatoes.  


food for thanksgiving
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Celebrated On: 23rd of November

Japanese Day of celebration is called ‘Kinro Kansha no Hi’, which means Labor Thanksgiving Day. What began as an ancient rice harvest festival called Niinamesai has now transformed into a religious holiday to commemorate the workers who helped the successful harvest happen. Unlike other countries, in Japan it revolves less around food and more around being thankful for the hard work of devoted workers. Japanese Thanksgiving always falls on the 23rd of November and not on any particular week of the months. School children prepare handmade cards and gifts to distribute among firefighters, police officers, coastguards and other municipal workers who help keep them safe. The holiday is considered to give people a break from their busy schedules to rest and spend quality time with their families. 


short history of thanksgiving
Happy girl holding ‘I’m thankful’ sign during Thanksgiving meal with her parents.

Celebrated On: 1st Wednesday of November

Religious separatists from 17th century England who were unhappy with the way King James treated and punished them fled the place to arrive in the Dutch town of Leiden. Here these Pilgrims had the freedom to worship how they wished. The Dutch thought pretty highly of these Pilgrims and in their honor there is an annual celebration in Leiden. Annual Thanksgiving wishes Celebration is held at the Pieterskerk, a Gothic church in the city where one of the Pilgrim leaders, John Robinson, is buried. Unlike other countries there is no lavish spread of food for thanksgiving but just coffee and cookies after a non-denominational church service in honor of the Pilgrims’ perseverance. Locals and tourists can find hot traditional Thanksgiving meals at restaurants and American associations across the country.


thanksgiving wishes
Multi-generation family having a party in the back yard

Celebrated On: 15th Day of the 8th Month of the Lunar Calendar

The Korean Chuseok Harvest Festival is the perfect time to spread happiness and togetherness among those you love. Thousands of people flock from the cities to their ancestor’s home towns to celebrate this three day festival. It’s believed that the ancestors have passed on their good luck and blessings to the families and in return the families pay homage to the ancestors. Family members visit the tombs of the ancestors and offer them prayer, food and crops after cleaning the grave sites. This festival is not just a chance to mark remembrance but also time for celebration. Children and adults dress in traditional silks, and celebrate with dishes made from the freshly harvested rice. People indulge in other activities like archery, musical competitions, folk dance and music.


thanksgiving fun facts
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India being a multilingual, multi-cultural and secular country, Thanksgiving is celebrated in different names and on various dates. Time and ways of celebration vary from one region to another. In Goa, the celebration is called ‘Ladin’ or ‘Ladainha’ which falls at the end of November. On this day Christians in Goa sing hymns and say prayers together expressing gratitude for God’s grace on Earth. In southern India it is celebrated as Pongal in January. On this day, farmers cut the first harvest from their fields and offer it to the God and prepare sweet dishes. In Punjab, Lohri is the harvest festival which is celebrated to thank God’s provision and creations. People believe that thanking God on this day will make them happy and prosperous throughout the year.

Suggested Reads: 12 Unique Indian Traditions That You Should Know

Thanksgiving traditions bring people together. No matter where you are in the world, the essence of the festival remains the same. Everyone has someone or something to be grateful and thankful for. Go ahead and celebrate this Thanksgiving your way. Happy Thanksgiving!

Some FAQs For You

How many countries celebrate Thanksgiving today?

There are around 17 countries that celebrate their own version of Thanksgiving.

What are some Thanksgiving traditions around the world?

Breaking the wishbone for good luck, eating a traditional Thanksgiving meal, running a turkey trot and watching an American football game are some Thanksgiving traditions from around the world.

How can I start a Thanksgiving tradition of my own?

Start off by checking in with your loved ones, enjoy your favorite food with your favorite television series or Movies or you can also donate to a Charity.

What else can you call Thanksgiving?

Appreciation, appreciativeness, gratefulness, gratitude, thankfulness and thanks are other names for Thanksgiving.


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