Articles, activities for boomers & seniors
We're glad you asked! Perhaps you have visited or lived in other countries, or have an interest in your ancestral heritage and would like to know or relive their holiday customs. Let's look at a few traditions.
There are about 17 countries that celebrate a form of Thanksgiving for various reasons.
Canada celebrated in 1578, 40 years before America. The second Monday in October features a feast like ours, in gratitude for explorer Martin Frobisher's successful voyage to North America and his celebration in Newfoundland.
China celebrates their annual “Chung Chiu” Moon Festival, or the fall harvest, on the 15th day of the eighth lunar cycle of the year (Find THAT on your calendar!). Chinese families come together for a three-day feast that features a sweet delicacy called the “mooncake.”
A similar harvest festival is celebrated on the same day in Vietnam, known as Têt-Trung-Thu, or Trung Thu, on which they also give thanks and honor their families.
The small island nation of Granada celebrates Thanksgiving annually on Oct. 25. The tradition began in 1983 to commemorate the American and Caribbean intervention in Grenada.
Thanksgiving in Liberia is celebrated the first Thursday of November, and is almost identical to the U.S. version. Freed slaves brought the customs over, adding their own local foods and spices to the meal.
Ironically, the British have embraced the holiday that has its origins in the Pilgrim's escape from English tyranny. Some experienced the holiday while visiting the U.S., while some others are expats who want to keep the tradition alive.
Christmas is perhaps the most universal holiday, but its traditions are anything but universal.
In Sweden, the Gävle Goat, or Yule Goat, takes center stage. The straw goat is more than 42 feet high, 23 feet wide, and weighs 3.6 tons. Its taken down and rebuilt every year, from the first Sunday of Advent until after the new year.
Japan’s Christmas celebration also features an old man with gray hair and a beard: Colonel Sanders! Families line up at KFC or order months in advance to get their “finger-lickin’ good” holiday meal.
Iceland celebrates 13 days of Christmas. Children are visited by the 13 Yule Lads (NOT a rock band!). Kids place their shoes by the window. In the morning, the good kids receive candy, while bad kids receive shoes full of rotten potatoes. Bleh.
Sleighbells are rarely heard in New Zealand, because Christmas falls in their summertime. Kiwis gather for barbies (barbecues) featuring seafood, meat, and veggies. Their holiday tree is the Pohutukawa that provides shade as they sing carols in English and Maori.
Christmas may not be so jolly in Alpine countries like Austria — it’s more of a judgment day! A devil-like creature named Krampus appears for their St. Nicholas celebration on December 6. Children must submit a list of their good and bad deeds. Good children get sweets, apples, and nuts, while bad kids worry about what Krampus will bring on Christmas morning!
How do you celebrate whatever holidays are special to you? Holiday traditions are a great way to celebrate your heritage, pass on meaningful family memories and beliefs, and exercise your faith. Perhaps you will import some traditions, recipes, and meanings from other countries. And if you must, we suppose you can include Krampus to tone down the rowdy kids during the festivities!