A harvest festival celebrating communal harmony, Thanksgiving is primarily observed in the United States of America. Marked with immense joviality and merrymaking, the festival witnesses some exceptionally unique and fascinating customs and traditions, associated with its celebration. Thanking God for a bountiful harvest is not unknown in other parts of the world. Apart from America, there are several other countries that celebrate the harvest, though with different names and in different seasons. However, what unites all these countries is their gratefulness to the Lord for his blessings and the abundance and prosperity that he bestowed upon them are their underlying themes. Some similar festivals from other parts of the world are illustrated in the lines below. Take a look!
An autumn festival held for three days, known as Thesmosphoria, is celebrated by the Greeks to honor Goddess Demeter, the deity of food grains. The interesting festival is associated with fertility and hence, fertile married women build a home for the Goddess to stay on the first day and equip her with all the comforts. They purify their souls and body on the second day by observing a fast in her honor, followed by the preparation of a grand feast on the third day. Since the festival falls around the harvest season, the specialties of the table include first fruits of the season, plump pigs, seed corn delicacies, and yummy cakes.
The Roman festival, known as Cerelia, is celebrated annually on October 4th to honor Ceres, the Goddess of Corn. As such, the offerings made to her include first fruits of the harvest and pigs. Other highlights of the celebration include a grand feast, accompanied by music, parades, games, and sports.
A festival similar to Thanksgiving Day in America is celebrated in China, known by the name "Chung Ch'ui". It is a three-day long harvest festival celebrated on the full moon day of the eighth Chinese month, since the Chinese believe the day to be the birthday of the moon. The specialty of the festival is its round and yellow 'moon cakes' with an image of rabbit on them. The lavish feast features roasted pigs and first fruits of the harvest. A legend says that anyone who sights flowers falling from the moon on this day is blessed with a good fortune. An interesting anecdote to these moon cakes narrates that at the times when Chinese were surrounded by enemies, their women used these moon cakes to deliver secret messages in the name of their rituals and thus, helped the men to win back their liberty.
The harvest festival of Jews is celebrated as 'Sukkoth'. For more than 3000 years, this autumn festival, also called 'Hag ha Succot' or 'The Feast of the Tabernacles' and 'Hag ha Asif' or 'The Feast of Ingathering', was celebrated by the Jews. This eight-day long festival is observed to remind people of the innumerable hardships and sufferings of Moses and his follower Israelites went through while they were wandering in the desert for forty years. Succots were actually the makeshift huts or tents used by them that were built of branches resembling the tabernacles of their ancestors. They used to hang fruits, like apples, grapes, corn, and pomegranates, from the roofs of these huts. The same traditions are followed till date by Jews across the world.
The Spring Harvest festival of Egypt is dedicated to Min, the deity of vegetation and fertility. Its highlights include a parade headed by the Pharaoh, followed by a gala feast, music, dance, and sports. The most interesting and unique feature of the festival is the mass grief, weeping, and howling by the farmers to trick the spirit of corn into assuming that they were grieved to cut the corn and thus, prevent it from taking revenge.
Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday of October every year and Canadians give thanks at the close of the harvest season. The holiday is marked with people visiting their families and friends, and gorging on lavish traditional Thanksgiving delicacies. The most luxurious ones include roasted turkey, pumpkin, corn ears, pecan nuts, and other seasonal produce. Most people take this holiday as an opportunity to indulge in sport activities, like hiking and fishing.
Interesting Thanksgiving celebration ideas, to help you enjoy the day in a memorable way.