It may surprise you to know that we Americans are not the only people to enjoy a celebration dedicated to giving thanks.
- Long before Europeans arrived in North America, the Indigenous Peoples had celebrated the harvest with autumnal festivals.
- Canada’s first Thanksgiving celebration happened in 1578, several decades before the one at Plymouth. Today, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October each year.
- In Japan, citizens celebrate Kinro Kansha no Hi (Labor Thanksgiving Day) on November 23rd each year. On this national holiday, people are encouraged to focus on the value of hard work and community service. Children celebrate the day by making cards for local police, firefighters, and other community helpers.
- The German equivalent of Thanksgiving is Erntedankfest, which translates to “harvest festival of thanks”.
- Surprisingly, there are people in the the Dutch city of Leiden who celebrate Thanksgiving. Some of the Pilgrims leaving England traveled to North America on the Mayflower, but some stayed behind in Leiden. Today, the people of Leiden still celebrate their connection to the Mayflower’s passengers by having church services on the fourth Thursday of November.
- Americans have spread the idea of Thanksgiving around the world to places like Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean, Grenada, Puerto Rico, and Liberia.
Step back a moment and think about the people on this list who are celebrating Thanksgiving; from the Netherlands ~ to Japan ~ to Liberia, they come in all colors.
Now, look around you at nature. During the Autumn months, everything slows down and the vibrant green colors of summer begin to change. Days are shorter, temperatures drop, and the Earth blankets us with a quilt of reds, oranges, yellows, and browns. These colors just feel cozy, don’t they?
It is not a surprise that when we look at the traditional North American Thanksgiving feast spread out on the table, we see many of the same colors. First, there is the glistening brown turkey, dressing, and warm gravy. Surrounding them you may see dark green broccoli, warm orange butternut squash, yellow rutabaga, creamy mashed potatoes, and ruby red cranberry sauce. When we eat what the Earth provides, we find that the colors of nature are reflected in our food.
I conclude that Thanksgiving is a holiday that reminds us to be the best version of ourselves; to look up from our devices, slow down, give thanks, show kindness, have gratitude, and breathe. Let us join together to give thanks for the beautiful colors around us…in the people, in nature’s colorful display, in the bounty of food. For the gifts of the Earth, give thanks.