Global cultures share in spirit of Thanksgiving


Art by Marion Krowczyk

Thanksgiving has been the day of turkey, gratitude, and family in America for 156 years. It has a special way of bringing people of all backgrounds together. Fond memories of stuffing, football, and pumpkin pie fill the minds of millions of Americans.

America is not the only country that hosts a day of thanks. Germany is the home of Erntedankfest. This celebration started as a day to thank God for the harvest, but is progressively expanding its reach as secular Germans begin to celebrate. The festivities begin on the first Sunday in October and last for three days. Protestant and Catholic churches hold services with specially decorated altars. Families build a harvest crown called an Erntekrone by putting a wheat wreath on a pole with ribbons. When night falls, the Laternenumzug lantern parade commences. In this parade, children wear costumes and wave lights around town. Wheat and honeycomb are usually included in any food eaten during Erntedankfest, and capon (roasted rooster) is also popular.

“Thanksgiving is very family-oriented and doesn’t come with the stress of buying presents like Christmas,” said math teacher Mrs. Karla Cherry.

Another holiday that is similar to Thanksgiving is Chuseok, which is celebrated in South Korea. Chuseok lasts three days during late September. Korean families gather together in their hometowns, which makes it the busiest time of the year in Korea with the most traffic. Families spend time together by making rice cakes called songpyeon that are filled with sesame seeds or red beans. Koreans give gifts to family and friends during this celebration to show gratitude. Popular gifts that children give to their grandparents include cooking oil and fruits.

“Chuseok is a great tradition to celebrate with family, especially those you haven’t seen in a while,” said senior He Bai.

Thanksgiving, Chuseok, and Erntedankfest come from different cultures, but their main theme stands clear. By realizing the worldwide extent of celebrating thankfulness, we can better understand the importance of being grateful for those around us as well as cherishing our blessings.