In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated by gathering with loved ones while enjoying a large meal together. In some households, football is airing on the television, or lawn games are played while the turkey finishes in the oven. Depending on which part of the country you visit, the roasted turkey may be the centerpiece of the meal with delicious accompaniments like key lime pie in Florida, or manicotti in New York and New Jersey, Hasty Pudding in New England, or pumpkin empanadas in New Mexico and Arizona. Each region has its own set of traditions and favorites, influenced by the various cultures that are represented there. But the idea of a day dedicated to giving thanks is not specific to the United States. Across the globe, people give thanks in their own way, with their own set of customs and cuisines.
The Kadazan Festival takes place in Malaysia every May, and serves to give thanks to the spirit of rice and to strengthen unity by gathering together. Rice is viewed as an extension of the Creator, and is used in many food dishes including tapai and hiing wine. Revelers participate in buffalo races and bamboo stilt races, all the while giving thanks for their bounty.
In Korea, the Chuseok Festival takes place over three days and commemorates ancestral roots with feasting, singing and music competitions, and archery. Traditionally, families would return to their ancestral hometowns to celebrate and feast together. The night before the festival begins, families gather to make songp’yon, rice cakes, together. Another festival staple is toran-t’ang, or taro soup. Gift giving is a common practice during Chuseok, with fine cuts of meat and fresh fruit being popular gifts. Spam, the canned meat product, is widely enjoyed in Korea, and is much desired as a gift!
Yams are the stars of the show in Ghana, as they celebrate Asogli Te Za, or the Festival of the Yams in September. Yam cultivation is a tedious and sometimes dangerous task, and the festival seeks to not only give thanks for a successful harvest, but also to acknowledge those who made the harvest possible. It is thanksgiving to both God and the ancestors. During the festival, families come together to compete as the group with the largest yam crop, and villages share their crops while singing, dancing, and eating.
Regardless of what country you reside in, thanksgiving all over the world is celebrated with a focus on family, feasting, and giving thanks for the year’s bounty. From all of us at the World Translation Center, we wish you the happiest of holidays and sincerely thank you for your continued support!