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Thanksgiving Traditions from Around the World

1. United States – The Turkey Pardon

Each year the President of the United States receives two live turkeys during a White House ceremony. The President then “pardons” the turkeys to live out the rest of their days free on a farm, and not in our bellies for Thanksgiving dinner. Which President started the turkey pardon?

2. Brazil – Day of Thanksgivings

Also known as “Dia de Ao de Gracas,” it is said that in the 1940’s, a Brazilian Ambassador returned from a trip to the United States and told Brazil’s President of the wonderful “Thanksgiving feast” he experienced during his stay here. Brazil’s government and residents then unofficially adopted the holiday tradition by gathering with friends and family and having “feasts” and by going to church to give thanks for what they have. Brazil even adopted our retail tradition, Black Friday. However in Brazil, the retail holiday takes place during a weekday, not the day after Thanksgiving.

3. United Kingdom – Harvest Festival

A tradition that has been around since Pagan times, in the UK is a time to celebrate with friends and family over a feast of food. Named the “Harvest Festival” because it takes place during late September – beginning of October during the Harvest moon. Not only do they give thanks by having feasts and parades similar to our Thanksgiving traditions, but, they also show thanks by delivering fruit baskets to the local churches.

4. China – Chung Chiu (Moon Festival)

Like other world traditions, China also celebrates the harvest moon around giving thanks, feasts and parades. The Moon Festival in China consists of a three day celebration, “appreciating the moon.” People celebrate by eating moon cakes, sweet pastries in the shape of a round moon, and dancing with festival lanterns.

5. Germany – Erntedankfest

While Erntedankfest (Thanksgiving Day) revolves around giving thanks to the harvest moon, this celebration is a bit more deep-rooted in religion than other culture’s harvest moon celebrations. Both Protestants and Catholics alike conduct a series of church services during the day. Baskets of food offerings are brought to the churches and then blessed and distributed to the poor. In the evening, lantern parades known as (laternenumzüge) are conducted for the children. A traditional Thanksgiving Day food in Germany is mohnstriezel, sweet bread sprinkled with poppy seed.

6. India – Pongal

A four day long celebration revolving around giving thanks to their gods with offerings, food, ceremonies and celebrations. This celebration takes place in mid January in Southern India. Learn more about each Pongal activity spread over the four day celebration in India.

There are many many many more “Thanksgiving” traditions all around the world. These are just a few to mention. What is your Thanksgiving day tradition? If you know of any more Thanksgiving traditions around the globe, drop them in the comments below!



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