“What do you do for Thanksgiving?”
“Well, I’m from Bermuda.”
“Oh, so what do you do in Bermuda for Thanksgiving?”
I gave up.
Tomorrow, Americans will be sitting around their living rooms eating turkey and talking about what they are thankful for.
It’s a yearly tradition for the United States that comes complete with the Macy’s Day parade in New York City and pumpkin pie.
But what I have found, is that many Americans forget is that not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving, hence the intro question, or that not everyone celebrates the holiday at the end of November.
For those who are not American…do you know where it started? According to the History Channel, the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast. In 1863, the celebration became the first national holiday thanks to President Abraham Lincoln and was to be held each November.
Now, it is celebrated with sweet corn, turkey, sweet potatoes, apple pie and gravy (not all in that order!) and even the largest parade, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade completed with balloon animals.
America’s Northern neighbour? Canadians? Well, their Thanksgiving happens on the second Monday of October and recognizes the end of the harvest season.
Like the Americans, Canadians also enjoy turkey and all of the Fall vegetables they can find with their families. This has been carrying-on since 1957 when Canadian Parliament declared: “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed – to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.”
One of the best know celebrations in Canada during this time of year? The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is an annual nine-day festival that is based on the German Oktoberfest. It starts the Monday before Canadian Thanksgiving and runs until the Saturday in the twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
There are an estimated 750,000 to 1,000,000 people every year! And a few even stay to see the largest Thanksgiving parade in Canada in the same place!
Bermuda? Well, we do not really have a thanksgiving per se. I suppose the closest we have to one time of the year where everyone comes together is Cup Match.
According to CURE’s publication, “Emancipation Day – A Day for Reconciliation & Reflection”, Cup Match was born from friendly cricket matches and celebrations to mark emancipation from slavery. In 1902, the cricket celebrations became even more official when the east and west ends of the island raised funds for a trophy to award at the end of the matches.
In 1947, Cup Match transformed again with the Thursday and Friday closest to August 1 officially named Emancipation day and Somers Day respectively. Emancipation Day to mark the end of slavery in Bermuda and Somers Day to remember Admiral Sir George Somers who colonized Bermuda in 1609. Now, Cup Match is filled with commemoration ceremonies, cricket, but also boating, beaches and definitely parties! Thankful? I think so, but let me know if you agree in the comments section below.
Sure we Bermudians, Americans and Canadians have held our traditions for a while, but there are other countries that have created their own type of Thanksgiving.
In Grenada, for example, a day of Thanksgiving is observed on October 25 and marks the anniversary of the 1983 Operation Urgent Fury, a US led military invasion of the Caribbean island. Grenada consists of about 100,000 people and sits about 100 miles above Venezuela. It also became independent from Britain in 1974, however, in 1979 the Leftist New Jewel Movement seized power and in 1983 an internal struggle ended with the revolutionary Prime Minister Maurice Bishop being deposed and murdered.
The invasion on October 25th, 1983 also had troops from Jamaica and the Regional Security System to help! The government was then headed by Governor-General Paul Scoon until elections were held.
Is that thanksgiving? Well, perhaps not like the Americans envision it, but in Grenada ceremonies are held during this time to give thanks, so I think it fits.
Dan pobjede i domovinske zahvalnosti i dan hrvatskih branitelja or Victor and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian Defenders, if you must know in English. Yes, Croatia has its own Thanksgiving too.
It is a public holiday and is held as a memorial to the War of Independence. It is also held on August 5, annually.
Well, on that date in 1995, the Croatian Army secured the city of Knin, which essentially ended the Republic of Serbian Krajina, a self-proclaimed Serb entity in Croatia.
Because of the reason for the day, it only makes sense that most of the celebrations are centred in Knin where there are festivities from Mass and wreaths laid in honor of those who died in the war as well as, parades and concerts.
On that day, the Croatian flag is also lifted on the Knin fortress (just in case anyone is confused as to who that day is about)!
Other countries tend to also have a “Thanksgiving” around the end of their harvest seasons. In China? This is called the August Moon Festival and is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. But instead of Apple Pie, there are mooncakes, which are made with sweet bean-paste filling and golden brown flaky skin.
In the South of India, they celebrate the Pongal harvest festival, which is named after a sweet rice dish and takes places on January 14th and lasts for three days. The celebrations vary by days and regions, but neighbours generally come together to feast and give thanks to a hearty harvest.
As you travel the world, these thanking festivals can be seen in their variations, but generally focus on food and recognizing family, friends and gratefulness.
Is Cup Match our version? You tell me on my website www.robynswanderings.com and return for next week’s column: being thankful I could travel and learn ten very important lessons.
Until next week I say: Do videnja.
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