Ever since 1863, Americans have officially celebrated Thanksgiving. Since 1941, it has fallen on the fourth Thursday in November. There are many claims on the origin of this holiday in the New World, and they range from Baffin Island in 1576 to Spanish Florida in 1513. The 1621 feast in Massachusetts may not have been the actual first Thanksgiving, but it has served as the model for Americans ever since.
In the 20th century, football became a part of the landscape; few sportsmen would even consider eating turkey without watching either the Detroit Lions or Dallas Cowboys.
While some American customs become “lost in translation” around the world (see our previous sentence on American Football), Thanksgiving itself doesn’t.
Winter celebrations are quite ancient around the world, for they commemorate the harvest and crucial times of change in the weather. Some celebrations, however, involve other themes.
Thanksgiving Around the World
Thanksgiving Translation in China
Here, the celebration is called the Dongzhi Festival. It is held on the winter solstice, and the staple food is called the tangyuan, which is a ball of sticky rice. The balls symbolize togetherness, and, in Taiwan, people actually stick parts of uneaten balls to the backs of doors and windows to ward off evil spirits.
Thanksgiving Translation in France
In France, there is no national holiday that is similar to Thanksgiving, so there are regional and local winter festivals instead. One of the most popular of these takes place in November and is called Martinmas after Saint Martin. As the legend goes, the saint hid in a barn after being named a bishop because he didn’t believe he deserved the position. A honking goose gave away his location, so goose became the dish associated with the day.
Thanksgiving Translation in Germany
The German celebration is called Erntedankfest (English translation ‘harvest fest’), and it involves whole towns honoring the harvest with parades and decorations associated with fruits and grains. The equivalent of a grand marshal from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade wears an Erntekrone, or harvest crown, and the people sing and dance before a fireworks display. Of course, there is also Oktoberfest for those who’d rather partake of the hop.
Thanksgiving Translation in Spain
The Spanish also don’t have a national holiday devoted to the celebration of the harvest, but they do celebrate the Day of the Dead on All Saints’ Day. Their winter celebration is in memory of departed family and friends, and they do get together as families at that time.
So wherever you may be this fourth Thursday of November, remember that being thankful for what you have is a feeling that transcends all cultures and languages.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Link Translations…