Hey, everyone! If you want to learn the history of Thanksgiving and how countries celebrate, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll learn a lot about Thanksgiving in this blog post.
Some people believe the first Canadian Thanksgiving had occurred in 1578 when an explorer named Martin Frobisher held a Thanksgiving feast for his survival on his journey from England.
Some people think that the first Thanksgiving celebrations in Canda can be traced back to French settlers. These settlers who came to New France in the 1600s with explorer Samuel de Champlain celebrated successful harvests with giant feasts of thanks.
A big portion of Canada considers Thanksgiving a statutory holiday. The first Thanksgiving in the United States was in 1621 at Plymouth. This feast was prompted by a good harvest and celebrated by pilgrims and puritans.
It wasn’t until the 1660s that the harvest feast became an annual affair. Each year the President of the United States pardon a turkey. This lucky turkey is guaranteed to spend the rest of its life living freely and not ending up on a turkey platter.
When the pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower, the Wampanoag Indians taught them how to cultivate the land. These Indians were invited to the first Thanksgiving in 1621. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated for 3 days in 1621.
The first Thanksgiving feast was made of lobster, chestnuts, onions, leeks, dried fruit, cabbage, carrots, chicken, rabbit, honey, maple syrup, and other items. There were no pumpkin pies, mashed potatoes, or corn in the cob at the first Thanksgiving feast.
The writer of Mary Had A Little Lamb, Sarah Josepha Hale, is thought to be the person to persuaded Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November to be the national day of Thanksgiving.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in the 1920s and it is still held today. Approximately, 280 turkeys consumed on Thanksgiving in the United States. The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday in the United States and it is the first official shopping day of Christmas.
Even if the turkeys wanted to escape before Thanksgiving, they can’t fly. Commercially, raised turkeys aren’t able to fly. Other countries that celebrate Thanksgiving include Germany (they celebrate the Harvest Thanksgiving Festival in early October), Grenada (they celebrate Thanksgiving Day on October 25th), Korea (they celebrate Korean Thanksgiving in late September or early October), Japan (they celebrate Labor Thanksgiving on November 23rd), Liberia (they celebrate Thanksgiving on the first Thursday of November), and Norfolk Island celebrates Thanksgiving on the last Wednesday of November.
The traditional cornucopia was a curved goat’s horn filled to the brim with fruits and grains. According to a Greek legend, Amalthea (a goat) broke one of her horns and offered it to Greek God Zeus as a sign of reverence.
As a sign of gratitude, Zeus later set the goat’s image in the sky known as Capricorn. Cornucopia is the most common symbol of a harvest festival. A horn shaped cornucopia, it is filled with the abundance of the Earth’s harvest. It is also known as the horn of plenty.
The first known Thanksgiving feast or festival in North America was celebrated by Franciso Vásquez de Coronado and the people he called Tejas (members of the Hasinai group of Caldo speaking Native Americans).
Turducken, a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with chicken, is becoming more popular in Thanksgiving (originated in Louisiana). A turducken is a deboned turkey stuffed with a deboned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small deboned chicken.
The cavity of the chicken and the rest of the gaps are filled with, at the very least, a highly seasoned breadcrumb mixture (although some versions have a different stuffing for each bird).
Fossil evidence shows that turkeys roamed the Americas 10 million years ago. Ninety-one percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day. There are regional differences as to the “stuffing” (or “dressing”) traditionally served with the turkey.
Southerners generally make theirs from cornbread, while in other parts of the country white bread is the base. One or several of the following may be added: oysters, apples, chestnuts, raisins, celery and/or other vegetables, sausage or the turkey’s giblets.
Thomas Jefferson thought the concept of Thanksgiving was “the ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard.” Every President since Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day. But in 1939, 1940, and 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Thanksgiving the third Thursday in November to lengthen the holiday shopping season.
This upset a lot of people. The North American holiday season (generally the Christmas shopping season in the U.S.) traditionally begins when Thanksgiving ends, on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) this tradition has held forth since at least the 1930s.
On the West Coast of the US, Dungeness crab is common as an alternate main dish instead of turkey, as crab season starts in early November. Corn is one of the popular symbols of Thanksgiving.
The corn came in many varieties of color – red, white, blue, and yellow. Some Americans considered blue and white corn sacred. The oldest corn date 7000 years back and they were grown in Mexico.
Benjamin Franklin wanted the national bird to be a turkey. A spooked turkey can run at speeds up to 20 miles per hour. They can also burst into flight approaching speeds between 50-55 mph in a matter of seconds.
More than 40 million green bean casseroles are served on Thanksgiving. Turkey is the traditional dish for the Thanksgiving feast. In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations. There is no official reason or declaration for the use of turkey.
They just happened to be the most plentiful meat available at the time of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, starting the tradition. Turkeys are first documented over two thousand years ago in Central America and Mexico.
Twenty percent of cranberries eaten are eaten on Thanksgiving. The preliminary estimate of the number of turkeys raised in the United States in 2005 is 256 million. That’s down 3 percent from 2004.
The turkeys produced in 2004 weighed 7.3 billion pounds altogether and were valued $3.1 billion. Fifty percent of Americans put the stuffing inside the turkey. In October 1777, all 13 colonies celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time; however, it was a one-time affair commemorating a victory over the British at Saratoga.
Turkeys were one of the first animals in the Americas to be domesticated. Columbus thought that the land he discovered was connected to India, where peacocks are found in considerable number.
And he believed turkeys were a type of peacock (they’re actually a type of pheasant). So he named them tuka, which is a peacock in the Tamil language of India. There are three places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course – Turkey, Texas; Turkey Creek, Louisianna; and Turkey, North Carolina.
There are also nine townships around the country named Turkey with three in Kansas. The wishbone of the turkey is used in a good luck ritual on Thanksgiving Day. The cranberry is a symbol and a modern diet staple of Thanksgiving.
Originally called the crane berry, it derived its name from its pink blossoms and drooping head, which reminded the Pilgrims of a crane. The different nicknames for Thanksgiving: Turkey Day (after the traditional dinner), T-Day (an abbreviation of Thanksgiving Day or Turkey Day), Macy’s Day (this is exclusive to New York City – it’s a reference to the Macy’s Day Parade), Yanksgiving (Canadians sometimes call the Thanksgiving in the US as “Yanksgiving” to distinguish it from the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday).
Several people wanted to have an official day of thanksgiving, including George Washington, who proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789. Several people did not want it including President Thomas Jefferson.
The first Thanksgiving lasted three days. Wild turkeys, while technically the same species as domesticated turkeys, have a very different taste from farm-raised turkeys. Almost all of the meat is “dark” (even the breasts) with a more intense turkey flavor.
Older heritage breeds also differ in flavor. The Guinness Book of Records states that the greatest dressed weight recorded for a turkey is 39.09 kg (86 lbs), at the annual “heaviest turkey” competition held in London, England on December 12, 1989.
Contrary to popular belief, Native Americans did not eat cranberries. They did, however, find them extremely useful for dying fabric and decorating pottery. The Native Americans wore deerskin and fur, not blankets.
In Africa, the harvest festivals have a lot of religious connotations. Dancing and singing are a special part of the festival. People who take part in dances wear traditional masks and outfits.
Each dance sequence unfolds a unique story. The Festival of Yams is a popular harvest festival. Yams are the most common food. Yams are the first crops to be harvested. This festival is celebrated with days of ceremonies and offerings to God and the ancestors.
The offerings are later distributed among the village folk. This is their way of giving thanks to the spirit. The festival is normally held in the month of August, marking the end of rainy season.
The Homowo Festival is the largest cultural festival of Africa. The people of Ghana which is in West Africa celebrate the Homowo Festival as a traditional harvest festival. The festival starts with a procession.
People from local African and African-American take parts assuming the roles of kings and queens. The African and African-American people also consider themselves as the follower of the royal family of each of Ghana’s ethnic groups.
The people of Africa hold a cultural ceremony called first fruits in order to bless the newly harvested crops and purify the people before they eat the foods. Across the nation in September and October, you’ll find communities coming together to celebrate the changing of the seasons and the successful harvest of another crop.
Although a good number of fall festivals happen prior to October, there are more than enough left so that you should be able to find a popular harvest festival near anyone. In Alaska each autumn, people hold a series of festivals and spiritual ceremonies after the end of salmon fishing and the berry harvest.
The festivals last throughout the winter months. People are addressing the spirits who could be helpful or harmful by dancing and songs. The people also appeal to the souls of animals upon whose everyone’s life depended on.
During dances, people wear masks and beautiful decorated ceremonial dresses. Most interestingly, men and women take part in the dance followed by the beats of skin drums, bird beak rattles, and piercing whistles which were used to call on the spirits to the dance home.
Harvest Festival in Austria is all about enjoying life. Saint Leopold’s feast day marks the start of the heurigen which is the new wine season in Austria. People of Austria celebrate this festive day with outdoor wine tastings and wine picnics.
They also celebrate the festival by folk music and live music. This is the day for the pilgrimage to Klosterneuburg Abbey, home of the eminent wine called Leopolsberg. The typical Austrian thanksgiving celebration called Erntedankfest is a rural harvest time.
Leopold’s Day custom called Fasselrutschen which is also called sliding down the cask involves a tremendous 12,000-gallon wooden barrel, commissioned by the abbot for Klosterneuberg wine cellar in 1704.
People climb to the top of the cask one by one and then the people slide down its smooth wooden side for good luck. It has been said the rougher the side, the better the luck. Nyepi is one of the most important festivals in Bali, signals the beginning of a new lunar year.
The festival usually falls during the spring equinox (late March, early April). On this day, all people (including tourists) must remain silent, and no-one may work, travel or take part in any indulgences.
This festival is a time of purification to make sure they have good crops. Kulkuls are alarm drums which are positioned in small towers in every Balinese village. The night of the full moon festivities observed at the end of the September.
The festival provides excitement for crowds of travelers and also for those who are taking part in the celebration. Crop Over is a traditional harvest festival which began in Barbados. The festival had its early beginnings on the sugar cane plantations during the colonial period.
The Crop Over tradition featured singing, dancing and during this festival carts and animals were decorated with flowers that would bring the cane to the plantation owner. The plantation owners then provide a feast for the laborers.
During Crop Over you can see parades, dances, and fireworks, and hear calypso bands, enjoy arts and crafts (beautiful wooden sculptures, woven straw mats, and colorful clay pottery) and taste the same kind of food and drinks that the slaves prepared in the 19th century.
Crop Over is a three-week long festival of feasting and enjoyment. The festival begins with a parade, for the ceremonial delivery of the last sugar canes. The timing of Harvest festival varies according to weather conditions and location. But festivals are held all over Britain at the end of the summer to celebrate the bringing in of the crops, usually during September.
In Britain, the time for the harvest festival starts when the wheat has been cut and the apples have been picked. The decoration of churches takes place and the churches are decorated with flowers during the harvest time.
People have a belief that bringing a plow into the church for a blessing will result into a plentiful harvesting during the next year. In Britain, the harvest festival is attached to the gathering of the last sheaf of corn.
The reapers raise a great Harvest Shout as it was cut. The last sheaf was treated with special respect and used to make Corn Dollies. This was done as people believed that the corn spirit lived in the wheat.
The Corn Dolly was then placed on the top of the final load of corn and carried back to the village in triumph. By creating the dolly, the spirit is kept alive for the next year and for the new crop.
Sometimes, the dollies are hung up in the farmhouse or in the church or in the barn. The dolly would be plowed back into the soil during the spring season. Another story about a Corn Dolly is in the folksong ‘John Barleycorn’:
“There were three men come from the West their fortunes for to try, and these three made a solemn vow: “John Barleycorn must die.” They plowed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, Threw clods upon his head, Till these three men were satisfied John Barleycorn was dead.”
However, in the spring John Barleycorn rises up through the soil. By and by he grows big and strong, even growing a beard. Consequently, the three men cut him down at the knee, tie him to a cart, beat him, strip the flesh off his bones and grind him between two stones.
Nevertheless, in the end, it is John Barleycorn who defeats his opponents. He proves the stronger man by turning into beer. In Britain, there is an old tradition to bake a loaf in the shape of a wheat sheaf, which is done using the last of the harvested grain.
The loaf is then taken to the richly decorated church. This is done as a symbol of thanksgiving for the harvest. Throughout the world, harvest time has always been the occasion for extraordinary customs.
They celebrate the harvest time wearing special costumes and are known to be the pearly kings and queens. The August Moon Festival or the Mid-Autumn Festival or the Moon Cake Festival is one of the most celebrated Chinese harvest festivals.
The festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar, close to the autumnal equinox. This festival of china ends with a big feast. The Chinese have Moon Cakes during the festival.
Friends and relatives send Moon cakes to each other as a way of giving thanks. People enjoy music and dancing and eating round yellow Moon Cakes. The Autumn Moon festival has much in common with the Thanksgiving Festival.
The Round moon cakes are baked and enjoyed, ornate lanterns are made and hung, and lovers are encouraged to come out of their homes and relax in the glow of the full moon. According to a say, the moon is at its brightest and roundest on this day.
Friendships are made and renewed on this day. Chinese poets keep writing for many years about long lost lovers finding their way to each other on this special night. The August Moon festival is often recognized as the Women’s festival.
The moon symbolizes beauty and elegance and is also referred as a female principle and is a trusted friend. Many ancient August Moon folktales are about a Moon Maiden. On the 15th night of the 8th lunar moon, little children on earth can see a lady on the Moon.
And those who make wishes to the Lady on the Moon will find their dreams come true. Mid-Autumn is a time for family, friends and loved ones to gather and enjoy the full moon that is a symbol of abundance, harmony, and luck.
Families enjoy picnics or special dinners. And those who make wishes to the Lady on the Moon will find their dreams come true. Mid-Autumn is a time for family, friends and loved ones to gather and enjoy the full moon that is a symbol of abundance, harmony, and luck.
Families enjoy picnics or special dinners. Dutch harvest hymns helped popularize his idea of harvest festival and spread the annual custom of decorating churches with home-grown produce for the Harvest Festival service.
During this harvest festival, the feast was held to honor the Hungarian saint .The Hungarian Saint used to hide in a barn after hearing that he has been appointed a bishop as they believed that they did not earn such an honor.
A honking goose was to reveal his hiding place and so roast goose became a traditional dish for Martinmas feast, along with wine made from the grape harvest. Also During this festival, we can see children marching in parades carrying homemade lanterns following the Halloween tradition.
The ancient Egyptians were always ready to party and celebrate. In fact, almost all the days in the year they seemed to be celebrating something or a god. The celebration of the springtime harvest festival in Egypt was dedicated to ‘Min‘.
In Egypt, spring was the harvest season and this was the time to hold the festival. The people especially the Pharaoh (the most powerful person in ancient Egypt) took part in the parade during this festival. After the parade, the great feast was held.
People also used to take part in music, dancing, and sports which were a part of the celebration. When the Egyptian farmers completed harvesting their corn, they used to cry and pretend to be a grief-stricken.
This was done to mislead the spirits of which they believed lived in the corn. The farmers had the fear that the spirits might become angry when they cut down the corn on which the spirits used to live.
Worship of Demeter as their goddess of all grains seems to have occurred primarily in connection to natural fertility. Every year during autumn, the festival of Thesmosphoria was held to honor the goddess.
On the very first day of the festival, Married women build leafy shelters and furnish them with couches which were made with plants. On the Second day, they had a fast. On the third day, a feast was held and they offer gifts of seed corn, cakes, fruits, and pigs to the goddess Demeter.
They had a hope that Demeter who was their god would grant them a good harvest. In Northern India, People celebrate harvest festival during the spring season, which is either in late February or early March. People harvest their wheat in spring.
This is also the time for Holi, which is a Hindu Harvest festival. Holi lasts for five days. Everyone dresses up, or buy new clothes during the occasion. People wear old clothes as part of the celebration and throw colored water and Red Powder at each other and indulge in the fun of the festival.
Holi is the festival where all whether they are family, friends or strangers get the same treatment. Candy Game and Tug of War are two such games which are played during the festival of Holi.
Everyone is allowed to participate in these games. People also build and light bonfires. After the flames have died down the ashes, they are rubbed over people’s forehead. This is done only to bring good luck for the year ahead.
There are different names of the harvest festival celebrated in India. For example: In Northern India, it is known as Lohri, In Assam, it is called Bhogali Bihu, In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar it is known as Makar Sankranti, and in Andhra Pradesh, it is celebrated as Bhogi.
The primary crop harvested in Eastern India is Rice. Springtime is the season of love and at this time they celebrate the love story of the God, Krishna, and Radha. The images of the two gods surrounded by flowers are pulled by decorated animals in a procession through the streets.
People offer flowers before the images in the temples. The love story of Krishna and Radha is dramatized or it is recalled by reading verses from a very long poem known as the Bhagavata Purana. Bhagavata Purana means “Ancient Stories of the Lord”.
People also have bonfires and they hold a dance where Men and Women dance in separate groups around the bonfires. They also throw colorful powder and waters at each other.
Onam is one of the most popular harvest festivals of Kerala in Southern India. It is a time for everyone to reap the benefits of a good harvest after a year of hard work and labor. Onam festival is celebrated in the memory of popular King Mahabali.
The festival is a time for communal thanksgiving. The famous ‘Snake boat’ race is organized every year. It is a season of dances, songs, food, worshipping among other festivities.
Women wear new sarees and they dress up their children in colorful clothes. The traditional ‘Pookkalam’ a flower mat that adorns the courtyard of almost every house. ‘Payasam’ is the most popular dish among the various dishes during this festival.
Pongal is another four days of harvest festival in Southern India which is celebrated with immense joy and enthusiasm. It is celebrated on the 14th of January every year. Pongal means the boiling of milk and rice.
Born fire and feasting is a common feature of the festival. Pongal has also known as ‘VenPongal’ and during this festival, farmers express their gratitude. Pongal is basically held to honor the Sun for a bountiful harvest.
People decorate their houses and families gather together to rejoice and offer Pongal to Sun. There is a belief that celebrating the harvest festival will bring prosperity, joy, and happiness.
Chu Suk is the popular harvest festival in Korea which is celebrated as a mark of respect to elders. The festival is a time for feasting and happiness. Families visit their ancestral properties in hometowns and people offer newly harvested foods. Koreans hold memorial services at the grave sites of the elder people.
Koreans hold memorial services at the grave sites of the elder people. After the memorial service, they have a special meal to celebrate and be thankful for each other. In Korea, People have Ttok (rice cakes) made with the newly harvested rice.
Special foods eaten during Chu Suk are songp’yon, freshly picked fruit, toran-t’ang (taro soup) and song-i (mushrooms. Different activities for the day include masked dance, Kanggangsuwollae, an ancient circle dance and the tug-of-war game.
Another activity includes the tortoise game called Kobuk-nori, in which two men dress as a tortoise and tour the village dancing and performing for food and drink. Many activities like archery, wrestling, and singing competitions are a special attraction during the Korean harvest festival.
Kang Kang Sue Wol Lae is a traditional ceremony which is observed a night before Chu Suk. All Women gather together in circles and sing songs to mark the festival. The people thank god and each other for a bountiful harvest.
Altogether, Chu Suk is a Korean harvest festival that takes place during the harvest season and is a time to give thanks for the autumn harvest. Nubaigai is the harvest festival held in Lithuania.
In Lithuania, the Thanksgiving tradition involves the creation of a Boba which is then wrapped around the worker who bound the last sheaf. The harvest wreath is then carried on a plate covered with a white linen cloth.
As the procession moves on, people who reaped sing an old song which represents how they rescued the crop from a huge bison that tried to devour it. Malaysia is situated in the central Southeast Asia.
The Kadazan is the harvest festival of Malaysia which is celebrated in the month of May by Sabah every year to thank their favorite Rice God. The local people have given the name of “Tadau ka’amatan” to this festival.
The local people wear their traditional costumes to mark the festival. Tapai is the homemade rice wine which is distributed generously among localities. Carnivals are an important part of the festival.
People here have a belief that there is no life without Rice. People worship Bambaazon who is the overall creator and thus revere his spirit in the rice plant and cooked rice. The harvest time is a time for lots of activities, cultural programs and agricultural shows, buffalo races, and traditional games.
One of the most important harvest or thanksgiving festivals in Portugal is the ’Festa dos Tabuleiros’ which is also called ‘Festival of the Trays’. This festival takes place every four years, in the month of July.
The fiestas das Vindimias festival which is held in the beginning of September is the other traditional harvest festival in Pamela (A town and a municipality in Portugal) which is near Lisbon (Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal).
This festival lasts for 5 days. The festival includes the wine harvest and this is an excellent opportunity to get to know some of its magnificent wines. There are also good things to eat such as the famous little Azeitão cheeses.
This is a festival for all the family and it includes children’s activities, sports events, different thematic expositions, wine tastings, wine sales and evening music shows. In Scotland, the Harvest Festival usually takes place during September and they celebrate the harvest festival known as “Lammas” which means loaf mass.
A loaf of bread is made from the first wheat that is cut which is then taken to Church so that the bread is eaten for the mass. After coming back to the peoples usually men from the deep-sea fishing, there is a festival in the Scotland Isles.
St. Michael’s Mass or Michaelmas is another festival in Scotland which is held on September 29. It is fair in this festival which includes markets, games, and especially horseracing.
This Festival is associated with the color Gold, all the harvest colors, the harvest and bounty (Reward) of the land and the sacred King. ‘Harvest Festival’ as is popularly known, is one of the oldest festivals in the United Kingdom.
It began in churches in the year 1843 when Robert Hawker invited local parishioners to a special thanksgiving service at a church in Cornwall. This resulted in the custom of decorating churches with home-grown products.
There is an ancient ceremony known as the “crying of the neck” which takes place in Cornwall. In the old times, the success of crops determined the success or failure of the people. The natives of UK pleased the God of fertility by offering him the first sheaf of corn.
This was done to ensure a good harvest in the coming season. The last sheaf to be harvested is held up and blessed by the local vicar. It is said that the last sheaf of corn contains its spirit “Corn dolls” are made to symbolize Goddess of grain.
The last sheaf used to be kept through the winter and then plowed into the ground at the time of the next spring planting. During the festival, the entire community is invited for a dinner as part of the festivity. It is held every year in the month of September.
This is however not declared a national holiday. The Harvest Festival in Zambia is one of the popular and entertaining festivals celebrated in the country. The country of Zambia is located in the Central part of Africa.
The culture of the country has the great influences of the neighboring regions and the Harvest Festival of Zambia provides a glimpse of the diverse culture of the region. The Harvest Festival of Zambia is one of the interesting and popular festival and is celebrated on the 24th day of the month of February.
The festival is the celebration of the Ngoni people. The Ngoni people occupy the Eastern province of the country. The Ngoni people are believed to inhabit the region of Zambia from 1835.
The Harvest Festival in Zambia is held every year in Mutenguleni, which lies 15 km southwest of Chipata. The Festival is celebrated according to the Ngoni tradition. In the Ngoni tradition, the Paramount Ngoni chief offers the first harvest of the season.
This offering of the Paramount Ngoni chief is celebrated as the Harvest Festival in Zambia. The Harvest Festival in Zambia is also marked by local dance and music. During the festival, twelve local chefs from the Eastern Province of the country assembles at the venue with their troops of finest dancers.
These dancers perform the local dances of the region which is enjoyed by all spectators of the region. Each of these dance troops performs before the Paramount chief, and the chief selects one group as the best warrior dancers and gives them an award.
The Paramount chief not only selects the best dance troop but also takes part in dancing. The chief is offered the blood of the cow which is killed at the N’cwala and is a symbol of the first harvest food.
This offering of the blood is also considered as the blessing of the people of the region to start harvesting and eating. There are several colorful Festivals in Zambia that are the source of entertainment for the people of this region.
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