Photo UC Davis Health System
Few holidays have more of a food-focus than Thanksgiving.
Ask any child what the most remarkable thing about Thanksgiving is and they’ll tell you it’s the quantity of food that is consumed around the dining room table, from the massive turkey to the creamy pumpkin pies.
But it is important to remember that the real message of Thanksgiving – for harried parents and hungry kids – is gratitude, and gratitude is a common sentiment across cultures.
While there may not be Pilgrims or cranberries fresh from a can, many nations have some sort of “thanksgiving” celebration in which they show their gratitude for a successful harvest.
Pongal is a harvest festival in South India that celebrates the contributions of people, the sun, the rain, and even the cattle in providing a successful harvest.
The Pongal Festival lasts for four days in mid-January. On the first day, old clothes are thrown away or burned to indicate that a new life has begun.
On the second day, rice or milk is boiled in new pots until it boils over. This signifies the hope that the new harvest will produce plenty of food for everyone.
On the third day, families wash and adorn their cows and buffalo to show their appreciation for the animals’ labor in producing a good harvest.
Finally, on the fourth day families celebrate with a picnic.
In China and Vietnam, families celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, in September with a feast.
The highlights of the meal are mooncakes, spongy cakes made from bean paste or lotus and imprinted with designs.
The holiday is also marked by carrying lanterns and revering the moon.
Many people in Africa celebrate in late August when the first crop of the season, the yam, is harvested.
People wear masks, often made from grass and leaves, listen to music, and dance.
In Ghana, the celebration is called the Homowo Festival and it literally means “hooting at hunger.”
However and whenever you celebrate, it’s always worthwhile to give thanks and share with others.
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