Many of us think of Thanksgiving as a uniquely U.S. holiday, but many cultures celebrate their own form of Thanksgiving. Consider the following:
Canada – Thanksgiving is observed on the second Monday of October every year, though many opt to feast on the weekend. English explorer Martin Frobisher and his crew had the first Canadian Thanksgiving in 1578 when they gave thanks and communion was observed, either on land at Frobisher Bay (present day Nunavut) or onboard a ship anchored there.
Brazil – Dia de Ação de Graças, arose from a 1940’s conversation between President Gaspar Dutra and the Brazilian ambassador who had just returned from a trip to the U.S. and described the U.S. holiday to the President. Dutra loved the idea of Brazil having it’s own Thanksgiving, and he established it on the last Thursday in November. It begins with a church service to give thanks for the harvest and ends with a autumn Carnival. Their meal is almost identical to that in the U.S. except they replace cranberry sauce with jabuticaba sauce.
Liberia – Thanksgiving is celebrated on the first Thursday of November to give thanks to God and America for freeing the slaves and granting them Liberia to live as free people. It’s an opportunity for Liberians to recognize the good things in life and gather for meals of chicken and green bean casserole and mashed cassavas. As with all Liberian celebrations, there is plenty of music, song, and dance.
Vietnam – Tet Trung Thu, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (the 15th day of the 8th Lunar Month) is an ancient festival that revolves around children. It’s a way for parents to celebrate with their children after harvest season and is a combination of Halloween and Thanksgiving that promotes education and the arts. Children parade, singing and carrying colorful lanterns. It’s customary to give gifts of Banh Trung Thu, moon cakes, which have bright yokes in the center that represent the moon.
Understanding the differences between cultures often teaches us how similar we are, but misunderstandings can arise from the smallest cultural differences. At Auerbach International (www.auerbach-intl.com), we ensure your communications are culturally correct for all your multilingual/multicultural needs.
From our family at Auerbach International to you and yours, enjoy a safe, healthy and warm Thanksgiving holiday.