Various countries celebrate their own versions of Thanksgiving
Written by
Will Krueger
Alysha Gurr's friends celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving
Image By
Alysha Gurr

In the United States, the Fall season is commonly associated with Thanksgiving. However, countries all around the world also have holidays dedicated to giving thanks and appreciating what you have. Whether it is China’s Mid-Autumn Festival, Japan’s Labor Thanksgiving Day, or Canadian Thanksgiving, people interviewed said each country celebrated their gratefulness with loved ones and delicious food.

China’s Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated each year in China on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, according to CNN. This year the holiday fell on Sept. 13.

Luo Xi Lin, a sophomore from China majoring in TESOL, shared how, “Every time during this part of the year, the moon is really round and that’s why they have moon cakes in a circle shape. That kind of represents the moon ... We eat moon cake. Moon cake is in the moon shape. It can be sweet or salty inside.

“The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most popular or favorite festivals in China. People don’t sell moon cakes at other times, only during that time. It’s around that time, before and maybe if there are leftovers.

“Of course, you can order it, but normally the market won’t sell it until that time. People will be really excited [to eat] moon cakes and to see the moon. It is the most beautiful time of the year.”

Another important part of this time of year, she explained, is how “people look at the moon and they miss their family. Everything that is a circle can mean family and gathering time.

“During this festival, most of the jobs and schools will have the day off, which gives people the chance to go home and be with their parents. Some people work far from home. They can have this day off to go home.

“We usually will watch the moon with our family and just chat under the moon and have a moon cake or a small dish. Usually, people will eat dinner before that. They will probably watch the moon at 9 or 10 in the evening because it is really pretty. It looks like a little moon on the table, with the colors too.”

A tradition especially loved by children, Lin described, is lanterns. “I did it with my family. In China they also do it. The kids will buy lanterns to just walk around the neighborhood.

“The lanterns are really exciting for the kids. They watch, worship the moon, and eat moon cake. Everything is about the moon. Kids can make their own lanterns too.

“You light [the lantern] and walk around your neighborhoods. In the nighttime it isn’t very bright, so the lanterns are a light for kids to walk around. The family usually hangs up the lantern too.

While at school, she said, they have similar traditions, but they celebrate with friends instead of family. “We get a couple of friends together. We eat some snacks, we prepare a snack or a dish together and eat moon cakes and chat, usually under the moon.”

Japanese Labor Thanksgiving Day

In the book “Thanksgiving and other Harvest Festivals,” author Ann Morrill explained, “On Nov. 23, the people of Japan celebrate Labor Thanksgiving Day. Originally called the Shinto Harvest Festival, since 1948 all of Japan takes this day to honor the nation’s workers as well as the result of the labor – the harvest.

"Traditionally the emperor would make the first offering of the fresh rice harvest to the gods on this day and then eat some himself. This ritual is still performed, but today it is a private ceremony.”

According to the website A Global World, “It was during the Meiji Era (1868-1912) that the date for this festival was set on November 23rd, and it has been maintained ever since.

The modern version of this festival was started after World War II in the year 1948, but the ancient tradition is still continued behind closed doors by the imperial family while the Labor Thanksgiving Day is celebrated by the public as a national holiday.”

Ayako Yoshida, a senior from Japan majoring in communications said although BYU–Hawaii does not have any celebrations for Japanese Labor Thanksgiving, “it is still recognized today showing gratitude to people who work hard for their family.”

Canadian Thanksgiving

Alysha Gurr, an alumna from Canada said, “Canadian Thanksgiving is officially on the second Monday in October, but families and friends generally gather throughout the weekend and often celebrate with a Thanksgiving meal on Sunday.”

Throughout history, Gurr shared, the reason for Thanksgiving has changed, and as the reasons changed, the date did too. Influences included British and European settlers, as well as immigrants from America. “It's been an official holiday since 1879 but still didn't have a fixed date. At that point, it was generally celebrated in October or November and often coincided with Remembrance Day, Nov. 11.

“In 1957, the Canadian Parliament declared Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the second Monday in Oct., like a holiday to give thanks to God for a bountiful harvest and for His blessings upon Canada ... It is celebrated throughout all of Canada, in our homes with family and friends.”

There are some similarities between American Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving, Gurr described. “The food is pretty much the same as Thanksgiving in the United States; turkey, potatoes, yams, stuffing, pumpkin pie, apple pie, etc...”

“Things associated with Thanksgiving, I think about time with family and food. Decorations and food are pretty much the same in Canada as it is in the United States. The Canadian Football League plays a doubleheader on Thanksgiving Day.”

With warmth, Gurr said in Hawaii, she celebrates with friends and it has become a tradition. “My first Canadian Thanksgiving here in Hawaii I was with a group of friends, and we ate pumpkin pie for breakfast on the beach. After that, I’ve always celebrated with friends. This year I roasted a turkey for the first time ever and had dinner with 15 people.”

Date Published
November 28, 2019
Last Edited
November 28, 2019