How Other Countries and Cultures Celebrate Their Day of Giving Thanks

We think of Thanksgiving as an American holiday, but did you know that other countries celebrate it? Countries all over the world celebrate Thanksgiving or similar holidays very similar to it. Each have their own customs and on dates spread out by months, although several have ties to our holiday. Here is how the holiday and its equivalents are celebrated in eight parts of the world:

Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island’s Thanksgiving is based on our holiday. The tiny island, with an estimated population of 1,700, located between New Zealand and Australia, dates back to the 1890s, owing its roots to its whale trade with the U.S., which brought over traders. Families bring fruit and vegetables to church to celebrate, tie corn stalks to pews, and decorate the altar with fresh flowers, according to a Travel Channel piece. Their Thanksgiving is held the last Wednesday in November.

Source: The Travel Channel


Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. Canadians celebrate the harvest and other blessings with a large feast that is usually held either on this day or the day before. French-speakers call it the Jour de l’Action de Grace. First held in 1578, it was the first Thanksgiving celebration in North America.

Source: The Travel Channel, The History Channel


Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Booths or Feast of the Tabernacles, is a biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei, which falls between late September and late October. The week-long affair includes special prayer services and holiday meals, in reflection of how the Israelites felt during their 40 years in the desert in the Book of Exodus.

Source: The Travel Channel


Germany’s Harvest of Thanks, Erntedankfest, just passed. It’s held on the first Sunday in October. A church-organized celebration, this harvest festival includes parades and carnival and features decorations made from fruits and vegetables. On this day, celebrants carry a harvest crown of grains, fruit and flowers to church in a solemn profession.

Source: The Travel Channel, The History Channel


Held in May, Ghana’s Homowo Festival commemorates the African country’s pre-colonial famine. The festival is held in May, during crop planting, and includes marching in the streets with drums, face painting, singing and performing traditional dances.

Source: The Travel Channel


The West African nation was also influenced by our American holiday. Liberia was established by freed American slaves in the 1820s with help from the American Colonization Society, an organization that helped the formers slaves migrate to Africa. National Thanksgiving Day is held on the first Thursday of November. Churches auction baskets of local fruits, including papayas and mangoes, which are served in family feasts. Other foods include spicy roast chicken and mashed cassavas. Live music and dancing are part of the public celebration.

Source: The History Channel

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico celebrates Thanksgiving on the same day as us, but it incorporates its own traditions. Turkeys is served, usually roasted, seasoned pavochon, or turkey stuffed with mofongo, which is a mashed plantain dish. Roast pork is also popular, as are rice and beans.

Source: The History Channel


While Holland doesn’t have its own Thanksgiving, residents in one city observe some special ties to the American holiday. Between 1609 and 1620, as many as 40 percent of the Pilgrims lived in the Dutch city of Leiden. It is believed that, inspired by the city’s commemoration of the breaking of the Spanish siege in 1574, they celebrated Thanksgiving there. Residents of Leiden continue to celebrate their ties today by holding special church services on the last Thursday in November.

Source: The History Channel

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