Thanksgiving Customs in Other Cultures
We think of Thanksgiving as an American holiday, but there’s actually a long tradition of harvest-time celebrations and thanksgiving celebrations in other parts of the world.
The ancient Greeks enjoyed a three-day festival every autumn, to honor Demeter, the goddess of corn and grains.
The Romans had a similar celebration in which they honored Ceres, the goddess of corn (the word “cereal” is derived from her name). The celebration included music, parades, games, sports and a feast, much like modern Thanksgiving.
The ancient Chinese held a harvest festival called Chung Ch’ui to celebrate the harvest moon. Families would get together for a feast, which included round yellow cakes called “moon cakes.”
The Jewish families also celebrate a harvest festival, Sukkot. This festival has been celebrated for 3,000 years by building a hut of branches called a Sukkot. Jewish families then eat their meals beneath the Sukkot under the night sky for eight days.
The ancient Egyptians participated in a harvest festival in honor of Min, the god of vegetation and fertility. Parades, music and sports were a part of the festivities.
The British Isles, the major Thanksgiving forerunner was a harvest festival called Lammas Day, named for the Old English words for “loaf” and “mass.” On Lammas Day, everyone would bring a loaf of bread made from the first wheat harvest to church.The church would bless the bread, in thanks for that year’s harvest.
Thanksgiving day is also related to the English Puritan’s practice of setting apart individual days of thanksgiving. These highly religious occasions usually followed times of great difficulty: The Puritans would thank God for enduring a hardship. In practice, American Thanksgiving isn’t a religious occasion, but it is centered around gratitude.
Hope you all have a great thanksgiving!