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Gratitude Around The Globe: 5 Thanksgiving Traditions From Around The World

While Thanksgiving is considered an American holiday, other countries have celebrations to give thanks. While they may not be in November or have a traditional turkey meal, they are all centered around coming together with a fruitful harvest and to count the past year’s blessings. Learn more about traditions and customs from around the world.


Did you know that the Chinese have been celebrating Thanksgiving for 2,500 years? It’s observed in mid-Autumn and it’s a day for giving thanks and gratitude for a good harvest. Foods eaten for this occasion include moon cakes filled with sesame seeds, ground lotus seeds, and duck eggs.

Renee Riley


The Japanese observe Labor Thanksgiving Day on November 23. The roots of the event come from harvest rituals and they celebrate the labor that goes into a fruitful harvest. In 1948, the holiday was formalized by the country’s post-WW11 government as a way to celebrate labor rights more broadly.



Instead of Thanksgiving, Germany celebrates Erntedankfest which marks a bountiful fall harvest. There is dancing, music, and a crown is presented to a harvest king and queen who are paraded through town. It’s more of a religious occasion than anything else and is usually marked by a church service.

The German Way

The Netherlands

Thankgiving was introduced into The Netherlands by pilgrims who lived in Leiden before immigrating to England. The major Thanksgiving celebration still takes place in the Leiden church that the pilgrims frequented. It loosely resembles American Thanksgiving but is mostly celebrated in public venues. In fact, Amsterdam has put together a celebration guide for homesick Americans living there.



National Thanksgiving Day in Liberia has an American connection since the country was founded by 19th century freed American slaves who brought the tradition with them. The holiday has adapted to include a tropical African flavor with dishes like roasted chicken and mashed cassava. The occasion celebrates freedom where revelers gather for food, music, and dancing.

UN Photo/Staton Winter

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