This weekend is the second “Canadian Thanksgiving” I’m missing since moving abroad and it has got me thinking about different Thanksgiving holidays around the world. For me, growing up in Eastern Canada, Thanksgiving gave me an extra day off school and a turkey coma a few times over. Traditionally, the turkey was accompanied by stuffing (no boxed stuff – my mother would never allow it), cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, turnips, carrots and of course, gravy. Some people will deck their home in gords – pumpkins and the such, corn, cornucopias, etc for the occasion which takes place the second Monday in October.
Last year I partook in my first American Thanksgiving which is pretty well the same event with the main difference being the date. Thanksgiving in the USA takes place the fourth Thursday in November (which is when it’s colder for us Canadians hence why ours is a little earlier). This holiday is quite important (being on of the “big six” major holidays) to Americans and many schools reenact the story of the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving at school plays… And let’s not forget the parades… and football!
It seems that most countries have their own celebrations of harvest such as Germany, Liberia, The Netherlands and Norfolk Islands. Now, I can’t speak from personal experience in relation to the celebrations in these countries but I can for the Korea equivalent… Chuseok.
Chuseok celebrates the end of the fall harvesting season and falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month (so anytime during September – October) and last three days. During these few days (usually coupled with a weekend to give a longer vacation) families travel from all over to visit the graves of ancestors to remember… this makes travel around the country a nightmare, but it’s a very important duty to be with your family. Younger Koreans will traditionally dress in Hanboks and bow to their elders in exchange for a few thousand won. When it’s time to eat, the food does not stop coming. Compared to the turkey and dressing in the west, Koreans indulge themselves on fruits, fish, chicken, tteok, kimchi and most importantly- songpyeon… a sticky and chewy mini-cake made of rice. And don’t forget the soju!