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Giving thanks around the world



Are you celebrating Thanksgiving this week? Many countries around the world have special days to give thanks or to celebrate a successful harvest of crops. Let’s see how they give thanks in other countries.

China — Moon Festival

a mooncake snack on a plate

A special Moon Festival mooncake — a treat made with a filling of read bean or lotus seed paste. (Photo credit: PeterThoeny via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA)

In China and other parts of East Asia, the Moon Festival/Mid-Autumn Festival is a tradition that dates back over 1,000 years! This holiday is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It is believed that the moon appears at its largest and shines the brightest on this day. The holiday is also connected to an ancient story about a moon goddess named Chang O who lives in the moon. Children are told that if they make wishes to the moon goddess on that night, the wishes will come true. A tasty treat called mooncakes are eaten at family picnics and dinners, and kids are entertained by cool puppet shows!

Germany — Erntedankfest

children in traditional German costumes

Some kids dressed up in traditional costumes for the festival parade. (Photo credit: rubu74 via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-ND)

On the first Sunday in October, Germans participate in a harvest festival known as Erntedankfest. People attend church services and listen to sermons (speeches or talks) and choirs singing. A harvest queen is presented with a harvest crown in a thanksgiving parade that also includes lots of food, music and dancing. Like Thanksgiving in North America, Germans enjoy eating turkey as a part of their celebration, but goose and large chickens are sometimes used instead.

Ghana — Homowo

women with baskets of yams on their heads

A yam market in the city of Accra, Ghana. (Photo by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture licensed CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Ga people of Ghana look forward to celebrating the harvest festival called Homowo every year in the month of May. Homowo is a time for thanksgiving because it is the celebration of the end of a long famine (a period of time when food cannot be found) that the Ga people experienced before moving to a region that was better for growing crops. The word homowo means "hooted at hunger," expressing the excitement and relief that the Ga people felt when their period of starvation was finally over. In Accra, the capital city of Ghana, thousands of people gather in the streets to sing, play drums, have their faces painted, and to perform traditional dances. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Israel — Sukkot

family eating dinner in a sukkah

A family celebrates Sukkot with a meal inside their decorated sukkah. (Wikimedia/Tfursten/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Lasting for seven days, Sukkot is a national holiday in Israel that takes place between the end of September and the end of October. Sukkot is also known as the “The Festival of Ingathering” because of its connection to the harvest, or gathering of crops. The festival also commemorates the 40 years the children of Israel wandered in the desert after being freed from slavery in Egypt. A temporary outdoor shelter called the sukkah is built by families celebrating the festival. Families will eat meals with lots of fruits, vegetables and other harvest items in the sukkah, and the men sleep in the shelter as well. Sleepovers are the best!

Want to learn more about Sukkot? You can read about it over here...

Canada — Thanksgiving

beautiful thanksgiving turkey

Photo by Dianne Rosete licensed CC BY-ND 2.0

Every year on the second Monday in the month of October, many Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving with food, family and even football. When Thanksgiving became an official holiday in 1957, the government of Canada said that it was to be "a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed". Many Canadian families get together on Thanksgiving weekend to spend time with each other, eat large dinners with turkey and pie for dessert, and of course, to give thanks!

Think about it:

  • How does your family give thanks?
  • What are you thankful for?
  • What might you suggest to your family to make your time of thanksgiving even more special this year and in the future?