When most people in America think of Thanksgiving, they think of eating traditional foods like turkey, cranberry, and pumpkin pie with family and friends. Uniquely American traditions like football and Black Friday shopping may also come to mind.
But Thanksgiving looks very different in other countries, each of which have their own way of celebrating the bounty of the fall harvest with loved ones. You can teach your child about other cultures and build on their foreign language learning by introducing them to some international Thanksgiving traditions.
Germany: Germany’s version of Thanksgiving is national holiday called “Erntedanktag,” which translates to “Harvest-Thanksgiving-Day.” Harvest Festivals (Erntefests) are held in churches, markets and dance halls throughout the country, each celebrating foods for which the region is famous.
China: China’s Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, like the American Thanksgiving, is a time for family and loved ones to celebrate the end of the harvest season with a giant feast. Legend says that the moon is at its brightest and roundest on this day, which is said to inspire rekindled friendship or romance.
To represent the full moon, the Chinese eat a delicious flaky pastry called a mooncake, which is stuffed with either sweet or savory filling. If you’re up for a tasty challenge, check out this step-by-step guide to making your own.
Israel: Jewish families celebrate a 3000-year old harvest festival called Sukkot. A hut of branches called a Sukkot is built, and Jewish families then eat their meals beneath the Sukkot under the night sky for eight days. These hearty, seasonal fall soups from Israeli Kitchen are the perfect way to celebrate the end of the autumn harvest.
Korea: Chuseok is a major harvest festival and 3-day holiday in Korea celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. During this holiday, Koreans return to their hometowns to perform traditional rituals in the morning to remember their ancestors. Family members also visit their decreased loved ones, offering food, drink and crops. A popular food for the holdiday called songpyeon, a crescent-shaped rice cake, is prepared using healthy ingredients like sesame seeds, cinnamon, and pine nuts.
Check out the video below for a tutorial on preparing your own Songpyeon.
Tradition is great, but don’t be afraid to mix in a few international foods and activities this holiday. As the Portuguese say, “Feliz (dia de) acção de graça” (Happy Thanksgiving)!