This is How Thanksgiving is Celebrated Around the World!

7 minute read
Thanksgiving Around the World

Known as the celebration of inculcating gratitude in life, Thanksgiving is not just about carving a turkey or the mashed potatoes and the cranberry sauce which seems to be a part of every Thanksgiving dinner. Even though it originated as a festival to express gratitude for a good harvest but with time it expanded in its meaning. The holiday is about being generous and grateful for the people you have in your life and the beautiful perks of living Even though the idea behind the festival is similar across the world, every country has a unique way of celebrating it. This blog brings you a glimpse into the exciting celebrations of Thanksgiving and the world’s prominent universities celebrate this special holiday!

thanksgiving celebrations at universities
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If you have watched the American sitcom Friends, you must exactly know what a Thanksgiving celebration looks like in America. Amongst the most popular Thanksgiving celebrations around the world, it’s celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of the month of November. In America, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the winter holiday season followed by Christmas and New Year. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1624 by the pilgrims to commemorate their first harvest in the New World and the Thanksgiving celebration that you see today is an extension of the same fiesta. Schools and universities give Thanksgiving breaks to students and hold have amazing Thanksgiving traditions and celebrations at universities for international students. A typical American Thanksgiving celebration has at its center the Thanksgiving dinner with its turkey, pies and mashed potatoes. Other highlights of the celebration are the parades, the football matches, and the family coming together and saying one thing that they are thankful for this year. 

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thanksgiving around the world
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The Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated every year on the second Monday of October. The Thanksgiving celebration in Canada is pretty similar to that in America with its turkey and football. But the origin of this festival in Canada can be dated back to 1579, which is almost 40 years before the advent of American thanksgiving which is the most popular one around the world. As history goes, it was first celebrated in Canada by Martin Frobisher in order to express gratitude for the safe completion of their otherwise dangerous voyage. It’s taking from this tradition that the Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving and till now, the essence of the festival remains the same. 

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Erntedankfest is the German equivalent of Thanksgiving, usually celebrated on the first Sunday of October. It’s more religious in its form than the Canadian and American Thanksgiving on the front that most of the celebrations take place in the church. One of the significant rituals in this unique celebration of Thanksgiving around the world is the ceremony in which woven baskets filled with all kinds of fruits and nuts are brought to be blessed by the church and then in an elaborate procession distributed amongst the poor. It is a day to not express gratitude for a good harvest but also sharing the bounty of it with everyone. The other highlights of Erntedankfest include the lantern ceremony hosted especially for children.

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thanksgiving around the world
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You can find a variation of Thanksgiving even in Japan. But instead of thanking God for the harvest, Japan’s Labour Thanksgiving Day which is called Kinro Kansha no Hi is dedicated to thanking the Japanese workforce for their contribution to the society and is a celebration of their rights. It’s celebrated on the 23rd of November and on this day the school children prepare cards and gifts which is then distributed among the public servants like police officers, firefighters, coastguards in order to express the gratitude for their work. Amongst the most remarkable Thanksgiving celebrations around the world, this day is also meant to give people a break from the busy schedules so that they can rest and spend quality time with their families. 


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When you think about Thanksgiving traditions around the world, India never comes to your mind. Right? But a variation of Thanksgiving is celebrated in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. As other Thanksgiving traditions, Pongal is dedicated to express gratitude to the Sun God for the plentiful harvest as it’s the backbone of their economy. It’s celebrated on the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi and the beginning of this celebration is marked with the boiling of the first rice of the season and is then dedicated to the gods. There are similar celebrations across India like Makar Sankranti in northern India and Monti Fest in the southwestern parts of India. 


thanksgiving around the world
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The Korean Chuseok Harvest Festival celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar is very similar in its origin to Thanksgiving around the world. In this festival, the Koreans get together at their ancestral homes and spend time with their entire family. A traditional Chuseok lunch consists of many traditional Korean dishes like Songpyeon and dingdong. This festival is basically meant to pay homage to the ancestors for the good luck that the have blessed their families with. The tombs of the ancestors are visited, cleaned and are given offerings of food and crops. 


thanksgiving celebrations at universities
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In Liberia, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the first Thursday of each November. It is a day dedicated to express gratitude for the foundation and establishment of their country which was a product of their ancestors struggle for freedom. It’s a festival of hope marked as a celebration of all the good things in life. Unlike in the American or Canadian Thanksgiving dinner, the Liberian Thanksgiving dinner consists of roasted chicken, green bean casserole and mashed cassavas. It’s a day where the nature community get together and celebrate the day with lots of dancing, music and food. 

Top Universities that Celebrate Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a traditional holiday in USA, Canada, and many other parts of the world. Many universities give students a long Thanksgiving break around this time to allow them to celebrate with their families and loved ones. All those students who decide to stay back on campus during the holidays and take part in the celebrations hosted by foreign universities and make this holiday a beautiful memory in their study abroad journey!

Thanksgiving Festival at Lebanon Valley College

Lebanon Valley College is a private university nestled in the city of Pennsylvania which celebrates the annual Thanksgiving Festival every year. Thanksgiving celebrations at this university includes a traditional festival and a fun Thanksgiving dinner for all its students to enjoy in its Lehr and Phillips Dining Hall. Its departments have their own spin on the festival, some distribute amazing thanksgiving treats, thanksgiving trivia, or by kicking back and enjoying a long weekend with friends and family!

Largest Turkey Day at Ohio State University

The Ohio State University goes on all out on its Thanksgiving Day celebrations. The university is known for hosting the largest Thanksgiving dinner party. The giant feast includes 650 pounds of turkey, 30 gallons of gravy, 432 pounds each of green beans and corn, 320 pounds of cornbread, and 2,000 slices of pie. Many national and international students stay back to celebrate this historic dinner party that can be dated back to 30 years. Ohio State University students can also take part virtually and post online on the official website what they are grateful for on this turkey day!

Traditional Turkey Trot at Lehigh University

Lehigh University located in the USA celebrates the famous Turkey day by hosting the popular Turkey Trot marathon/walkathon. All students, professors, and staff members are free to join in on this fun adventure to complete a 5k or 1 mile run around the campus. All participants take a photo and mail it to the administrative staff to show they have completed the race. Later, they enjoy a hearty Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the university! The university also has other traditions like Bed Races and Eco Flame for students to enjoy!

Volunteer for Project Feast at UMB

Thanksgiving is showing your gratitude and that’s why the University of Maryland, Baltimore started its 30-year-old volunteer program called the Project Feast that feeds and clothes the homeless and disadvantaged people on Thanksgiving day at Booker T. Washington Elementary School. The tradition was started by the Medical School at UMB and has served the community for 30 years consistently. It is a great and giving way to celebrate your holiday away from home. They also offer free health screenings to help and uplift the community.

Thanksgiving Dinner at Carnegie Mellon University

The Carnegie Mellon University located in the USA celebrates Thanksgiving by hosting a spectacular dinner party for all students who wish to stay back on campus and celebrate with their new-found family! It is called the Thanksgiving Weekend Dining and all undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to join the dinner party. All students are required to register to book slots so that they do not miss out on the mega feast served in the traditional style!

All Thanksgiving traditions around the world are fun and a beautiful piece of culture. If you want to experience first-hand how Thanksgiving celebrations at universities take place then wait no more! Our Leverage Edu experts are here to guide you throughout the process of selecting the right program and university and further lend you a helping hand through the admission procedure! Call us now and to celebrate a Happy Thanksgiving at your dream university!

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