“Word Echoes from SANZ: THANKSGIVING”
Written by Helewise Arends on November 10, 2017
The American holiday of THANKSGIVING traces its roots all the way back to 1621,
when colonists held a harvest feast with the pilgrims –
Dutch settlers of the Plymouth Colony (what is now called Massachusetts).
In 1861 Abraham Lincoln declared it an official Thanksgiving Day,
which is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of each November in the United States.
It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.
The first Canadian Thanksgiving (French: I’Action de grâce) , is older than the American tradition,
was believed to be first held in 1578 and is held on the 2nd Monday in October.
Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany (known as the Erntedankfest)
and Japan(known as KInrõ Kansha no Hi or Labour Thanksgiving day on November 23 –
centred around giving thanks for workers rights ).
In Liberia, a colonised West African territory from the US,
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 1st Thursday of November.
The Chinese celebrate an annual holiday known as the Mid-Autumn Festival
in late September or early October when the moon is fullest & brightest.
This holiday roots are traced back more than 2,500 years before the Europeans.
Similar to China , the Vietnamese celebrate the holiday known as Têt-Trung-Thu Festival,
or the Children’s Festival, held as a way for parents, once busy with the harvest,
to make amends with their children who may have felt neglected.
A bigger equivalent holiday is also celebrated in the UK –
prayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common after the harvest.
Thanksgiving is generally not celebrated in Australia. However on the Australian
external territory of Norfolk Island and is celebrated on the last Wednesday of November.
The holiday was brought to the island by visiting American whaling ships.
Traditional Thanksgiving meal revolves around turkey,
mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing & vegetables –
you’ll hear the Americans talking about eating yams,
(a starchy root vegetable grown in the Caribbean)
but is widely referred to as sweet potatoes.
The meal is traditionally rounded off with pumpkin pie.
The Chinese dessert varies and is known as moon cake.
Over the years, specific traditions & customs associated with the holiday have evolved,
from watching afternoon football games to marking the beginning of the holiday shopping season.
Communities often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate.
Thanksgiving is a time to feel gratitude for the good things in life –
a time to honour what you are #THANKFUL for.