In the U.S., our Thanksgiving traces its roots to a 1621 harvest celebration that occurred in Plymouth attended by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans. Thanksgiving was declared a holiday by President Lincoln. Link to IFOD on the proliferation of holidays here.
The U.S. is not the only country that celebrates Thanksgiving. At least fifteen other countries have a fall harvest type celebration that resembles Thanksgiving. Here are ten notable ones:
Canada’s Thanksgiving pre-dates the U.S. one as it dates back to 1578. It is celebrated on the second Monday of October. Their Thanksgiving feast resembles what we eat in the U.S.: turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, etc.
Liberia was founded by freed American slaves and as such it celebrates Thanksgiving as well as some other American holidays.
China’s Thanksgiving is a fall harvest celebration known as the “Chung Chiu” Moon Festival. Over this three day celebration they eat mooncakes, watch the full moon (the holiday occurs based on the lunar cycle) and recite poetry. China’s moon festival is a 2.500 year tradition
Thanksgiving in Germany is known as Erntedankfest and is a fall harvest celebration of gratitude. It is more of a religious holiday in Germany and usually involves attending church.
Grenada’s Thanksgiving celebration is tied to the October 25, 1983 military action by the U.S. which stabilized their political government. Every year they celebrate the military action with a national holiday of gratitude.
Japan’s Thanksgiving is known as Kinrō Kansha no Hi and is celebrated on November 23rd. It is a tradition over 2,000 years old and has its roots in the celebration of the fall rice harvest.
7. Norfolk Island
Norfolk Island is an Australian territory in the Pacific between Australia and New Zealand. It’s Thanksgiving celebration supposedly originates from American whalers who commonly visited the island. They celebrate their Thanksgiving on the last Wednesday of November and features dishes made from bananas.
8. South Korea
Korea’s Thanksgiving is known as Chuseok and is celebrated on the same day as the Chinese Thansgiving. Similar to China, the holiday celebrates the first full harvest moon. Koreans give each other gifts on Chuseok which often consist of meats, fruits and vegetables. Also, SPAM is popular in South Korea and is a common gift.
Like Korea and China, Vietnam’s Thanksgiving is held on the first day of the full harvest moon. It’s Thanksgiving is known as Têt-Trung-Thu Festival which roughly translates into “the Children’s Festival.” It is called that because it is “held as a way for parents, once busy with the harvest, to make amends with their children who may have felt neglected.” Source.
10. One City in the Netherlands
Thanksgiving is celebrated in the city of Leiden in the Netherlands. The connection to Leiden is that in order to escape the religious persecutions in England, some of the Pilgrims called Leiden home from 1609 to 1620. The Pilgrims sheltering in Leiden traveled on a ship called Speedway to England where they met up with other Pilgrims and traveled to America. Due to this connection, Thanksgiving is celebrated in Leiden.