We are now on the countdown toward one of the biggest holidays in the United States: Thanksgiving. Similarly to the United States, the concept of celebrating the blessings of the past year is found all across the globe. Although some of these celebrations are held at different times of the year, Thanksgiving and other holidays like it in other countries share one main theme, harvest.
In the south of Düsseldorf, Germany, people celebrate Erntedankfest to thank God for the gifts of harvest. This holiday is celebrated with huge parades and church services and after the parade, there is a traditional wheelbarrow race called Schürreskarrenrennen.
Another tradition that happens during Erntedankfest is the event where participants get into traditional costumes and race on a decorated wheelbarrow. These events take place on September 29th of each yeat and the celebration begins on Friday and ends on Monday. This festival has always attracted numerous tourists each and every year.
The Korean thanksgiving day is called Chuseok. Although it is translated as a thanksgiving day, Chuseok has the meaning of wishing for a successful harvest. Dating back 2000 years, Chuseok is celebrated every August 15th of the lunar calendar on the full moon.
Before the fall harvest, Korean ancestors would reap grains earlier and wish for a good harvest in the fall. On Chuseok, Koreans eat the traditional rice cake, songpyeon, and play folk games such as Korean wrestling and tug-of-war.
In India, specifically the Tamil community, a harvest festival called Pongal is celebrated. The festival is dedicated to the sun god and it takes place around mid-January, which marks the end of the winter solstice and the start of the sun’s journey for the next six months.
One of the most important events on Pongal is serving the traditional pongal dish made with rice, milk, and sugar. The cooking of pongal symbolizes the transformation of agriculture’s gift into providing the gods and the community.
As of Thursday, Nov. 12, thanksgiving break is just a few short days away. Now, after just learning about other cultures’ harvest celebratory traditions let’s have a short time to reflect on the privilege of being able to enjoy hot foods everyday. We should be thankful for the abundant food present compared to the old days and spend Thanksgiving more happily and dearly.