Thanksgiving has been officially celebrated in the US since 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday of November a public holiday. However it dates back to an earlier, three-day celebration in 1621 when English settlers, known as pilgrims, gave thanks to God for their first harvest in the New World. Foods from their harvest, like cranberries, corn and root vegetables, were shared with the Native Americans who introduced these indigenous crops. These same foods are still shared on the modern US dinner table. And of course, we can’t forget the turkey. More than 90 percent of Americans will eat Turkey on Thanksgiving Day.
The idea of giving thanks and the theme of the harvest are universally recognized across cultures. Ancient Greeks and Romans honored their respective goddesses of corn and grain in a three-day autumn festival. In Asia, modern Chinese families, like their ancestors, welcome the harvest moon with feasts and moon cakes during the Chung Ch’ui festival. And in India, especially in Goa, Thanksgiving is known as ‘Ladin’ or ‘Ladainha’ and is the holiday when Indian families give thanks for their material and spiritual blessings.
Though it started out as a secular event, modern day Thanksgiving has evolved into a celebration synonymous with food, family and American football… and of course, in recent years, the US Black Friday shopping frenzy. Though consumerism has seeped in a bit, Thanksgiving is still personally my favorite holiday for the simple reason that it is founded on gratitude. It is a time when we think less of ourselves and more of others.
In that vein, we at GPI would like to pause this week and give thanks to the businesses and people we’ve had the opportunity to work with this year. Like localization, gratitude knows no boundaries. Happy Thanksgiving!
To learn more about Thanksgiving traditions around the world, see: