From worldwide harvest celebrations that date back centuries to a maple syrup-glazed turkey in Canada, here are seven of the best alternative Thanksgiving celebrations.
Ladin in India
Sunbathe on Goa's coconut tree-lined beaches in between celebrations
India is a nation of festivals, celebrating everything from light and love to color on a huge scale. ‘Ladin’ or ‘Ladainha’ translates to ‘the Litany of the Virgin Mary, is celebrated by Christians in Goa and falls at the end of November. An altar is built specially and laden with flowers and all kinds of greenery, while believers sing hymns and say prayers together, expressing gratitude for God’s grace on Earth. Stay in your own beachside cottage in Anjuna, Goa, so you can enjoy some swimming and sunbathing before and after the festival.
Erntedankfest in Germany
Don a harvest crown and join the Erntedankfest procession
The Bavarian answer to Thanksgiving – Erntedankfest – is a harvest celebration, with live music, parades, fireworks and street parties thrown in for good measure. It’s not as family-oriented as Thanksgiving in the USA, so everyone tends to be out and about rather than having a sit-down meal. It’s held annually on the first Sunday of October but festivities happen throughout the month. Don a harvest crown of grain, flowers and fruit (known as an ‘erntekrone’) and join the procession, stopping off at the wine-tasting booths and food stands serving traditional German fare like wienerschnitzel that line the streets. Head to Berlin to visit the many churches and town squares taking part, and mark the celebration by staying in the modern, penthouse Downtown apartments in Mitte.
Chuseok in South Korea
Making 'songpyeon', a traditional Korean Chuseok stuffed rice cake dish
Much like Thanksgiving in the USA, Chuseok is the biggest and most significant annual holiday in South Korea. It’s celebrated on the brightest full moon of the year, pinpointed to a date on the lunar calendar that falls in Autumn, somewhere between September and October depending on the year. Festivities see families gather in their hometowns to tuck into traditional Korean foods, placing dishes such as songpyeon (a small rice cake stuffed with sweetened sesame seeds, pine nuts or chestnuts) on the table as a token of gratitude and homage to the dead. Then, a ritual called ‘Beolcho’ takes place, where families clear weeds that may have grown over the graves of their ancestors. Finally, everyone takes a walk together and plays Korean folk games. Stay at A House, whose urban design and rooftop garden have made it the most highly-rated accommodation in the capital of Seoul, where palaces, museums and other tourist sights open up to the public and host events.
Kinrō Kansha no Hi in Japan
Kinrō Kansha no Hi dedication dance in Japan
Kinrō Kansha no Hi (aka Labor Thanksgiving Day) is an ancient harvest ritual that is now a national public holiday in Japan, celebrating good food, hard work and community. Though its origins can be traced back hundreds and hundreds of years, the modern manifestation of the festival was officially created in 1948 to celebrate workers’ rights in post-war Japan. On 23rd November each year, local labor organizations hold festivals focused on encouraging people to think about the environment, peace and human rights, while children make presents for police officers. November brings a smorgasbord of seasonal food harvested from the sea, rivers, fields and mountains – try snow crab, amberjack and fluke fish. Tokyo Hikari Guesthouse is a highly-rated accommodation where you can enjoy an adventurous Thanksgiving with all the comforts of home.
Dia de Ação de Graças in Brazil
A traditional Dia de Ação de Graças spread, including 'feijoada'
If you don’t want to forgo all the trimmings of a traditional USA Thanksgiving dinner but want to enjoy it in warmer climes, head to the palm tree-lined beaches of Brazil. Dia de Ação de Graças was instituted at Ambassador Joaquim Nabuco’s request having returned from Washington enthused by the Thanksgiving celebrations he had witnessed there. Held on the fourth Thursday of November, Dia de Ação de Graças is hard to distinguish from Thanksgiving in the USA, were it not for the tropical backdrop and twists added to certain recipes. Turkey, ‘peru’ in Portuguese, is part of the main dish, alongside feijoada, a black bean stew brewed with salted and smoked pork and beef. Leblon B&B is just a two minute walk from the beach and has a shared kitchen if you want to try out some Brazilian Thanksgiving recipes for yourself.
Thanksgiving in Canada
Whipped sweet potatoes with maple-pecan drizzle, anyone?
These days, Thanksgiving in Canada isn’t dissimilar to celebrations in the USA, just with added maple syrup. The Canadian festival arose from European harvest traditions but was first celebrated in the late 16th century, with dates varying year by year until, in 1957, it was set in stone as the second Monday of October. Not that anything is missing from the typical USA spread but who could resist Canadian-style whipped sweet potatoes with maple-pecan drizzle, brussels sprouts with bacon, beer, maple syrup and mustard, or maple pumpkin pie with streusel topping? Docked in Toronto Harbour, Making Waves Boatel will make your Thanksgiving all the more memorable.