Thanksgiving is here! Families across the US are gearing up for the traditional American Thanksgiving feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. But this is just one way to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Whether you’re looking for last-minute menu inspiration or curious about other cultural traditions, here’s a look at Thanksgiving celebrations—and their foods—from around the world.
Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico
After Puerto Rico became a US territory in 1898, many Puerto Ricans embraced American festivities, adding their own flavors and traditions, The Foreign Fork reported. Falling on the same day as the rest of the US, Thanksgiving on the island marks the beginning of the holiday season.
A Puerto Rican Thanksgiving feast typically includes pavochon turkey, a turkey marinated in a mixture of garlic, orange juice, cumin, oregano and thyme, Foreign Fork reported. Another staple is mofongo, green plantains fried and mashed, then mixed with garlic and pork rinds, served in a ball or disk with stew, A Soothing Food explained.
Thanksgiving in Canada
Canadian Thanksgiving shares many similarities with American Thanksgiving with its family-friendly meal and annual football classic, History.com reported. Canada’s holiday takes place on the second Monday in October and dates back to 1578, more than 40 years before the first Thanksgiving in the US. However, the indigenous people of Canada celebrated the harvest long before this first. Official Thanksgiving Day.
Canadian Thanksgiving parties typically include cakes or donuts for dessert, according to Martha Stewart. Pumpkin pies tend to be spicier in Canada, with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Sweet potatoes, another staple dish, are typically baked or whipped with buttermilk and dijon mustard, not sweetened with marshmallows.
Thanksgiving in Liberia
The West African country of Liberia was created as an American colony for formerly enslaved people of color, The New York Times reported. The country declared its independence from the US in 1847, but some American cultural traditions persist, such as Thanksgiving. Liberia is the only country in Africa with an official Thanksgiving celebration, Travel Noire reported.
Liberia’s Thanksgiving is celebrated on the first Thursday of November, according to History.com. For many Liberians, Thanksgiving is a “tricky” holiday, The New York Times reported. For some, the holiday is a religious celebration and a day of gratitude, NPR reported. For others, the holiday is a legacy of a colonial era.
For those who celebrate with a big meal, Liberia’s Thanksgiving holidays have a strong West African cultural influence, The New York Times reported. Liberian jollof rice with multiple meats, including shrimp, chicken and pork, is a staple, NPR reported. Manioc puree, a root also known as cassava, is another common dish, according to Travel Noire.
Thanksgiving in South Korea: Chuseok
Korean Thanksgiving, or Chuseok (pronounced “choo-suhk”), is one of the biggest holidays in South Korea, according to a website for the holiday. The Mid-Autumn Harvest Festival in late September is all about family, friends, and food.
So many Koreans return to their family homes that Chuseok causes some of the worst traffic jams of the year in the capital Seoul, the Asia Society reported. Families come together to remember their ancestors through rituals and parties.
Korean Thanksgiving holidays should include songpyeon, a traditional Korean rice cake that can be filled with sesame seeds, red kidney beans, chestnuts or brown sugar, the holiday website says. Japchae, a stir-fried noodle dish with vegetables, and jeon, a traditional savory Korean pancake made of eggs, flour, and scallions, are also common dishes.
Thanksgiving in Germany: Erntedankfest
Germany’s Erntedankfest, which means “harvest festival of thanks,” has no official date but usually takes place on the first Sunday in October, History.com reported. The religious holiday is celebrated mainly among rural communities and church-going communities, The German Way reported.
German Thanksgiving centers around a religious service with a special parade and a country fair atmosphere, The German Way reported. Traditional foods vary based on the recent harvest from the local community, German Foods said.