Does Australia Celebrate Thanksgiving? What We Discovered
Ceremonies of prayer and Thanksgiving are common in many communities for both early and modern societies.
Thanksgiving has been made a national holiday for several countries, and it is celebrated on different dates across these countries. It is a day dedicated to giving thanks for the blessings of the abundant harvest for the past years.
Despite being a traditional holiday rooted in religion and culture, thanksgiving has long been celebrated as a secular holiday. There is also some confusion on which countries do celebrate thanksgiving, particularly Australia.
Does Australia celebrate Thanksgiving?
As a religious festival, Australia sometimes has harvest and thanksgiving church services, but most certainly don’t celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. However, a small group of the population, especially on Northern Norfolk Island, celebrates this holiday on the last Wednesday of November each year.
Origin Of Thanksgiving
History classes usually term the origin of Thanksgiving as a legend. In 1620, about a hundred pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to look for a new place to live.
This group was very religious and had begun to question the Church of England’s beliefs, and they deemed it wise to separate from it.
The immigrants commonly referred to as pilgrims, settled in a small town in America currently known as Massachusetts.
The new environment was tough during their first winter, having arrived too late to grow many crops. They did not have access to fresh food. As a result, half the population died from unknown diseases.
When spring came, the Wampanoag tribe, the indigenous settlers, taught the pilgrims how to grow maize, which was new to the immigrants. They taught them how to hunt, fish and showed them the favorable crops to grow in the area.
Come autumn 1621, and there was a bumper harvest of cereal, especially barley and maize. Pumpkins and beans were also part of the great harvest.
The immigrants had much to be grateful for, so a feast was planned. The indigenous chief and a few members of the local tribe were invited to the banquet.
The locals brought deer with fowls, and pilgrims offered other wild meat. The immigrants learned new methods of cooking different kinds of maize and cranberries.
In the subsequent years, several of the first pilgrims celebrated thanksgiving after the harvest during autumn.
After the U.S. gained its independence, Congress recommended a celebration day for the entire nation to give thanks.
When George Washington became president, he suggested Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the 26th of November. However, Congress did not give this much consideration.
In 1846, an editor of Godey’s magazine, Sarah Josepha Hale, prominently referred to as the mother of Thanksgiving Day, published several editorials that encouraged the “Great American Festival.”
She hoped that this holiday would help avert the looming civil war by unifying the country. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln, the then U.S. president, urged Americans to observe the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.
Every president proclaimed this holiday after that, and Congress set the official day to be the last Thursday of November.
In 1941, Congress came up with a resolution which President Roosevelt proclaimed in 1942, designating the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.
Countries That Celebrate Thanksgiving
It is considered a federal holiday, and it is normally celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year. Families and friends gather together to give thanks for what they have.
It is celebrated on the second Monday of each October. It’s normally referred to as Canadian Thanksgiving to distinguish it from the U.S. thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is celebrated on October 25 and features ceremonies and church services. Most people spend the day with their family and friends.
The holiday is celebrated to remember the anniversary of the U.S. and Caribbean military intervention in 1983. The U.S sent soldiers to restore order to Grenada after the death of their prime minister.
It is observed on the first Monday of October each year. Although it’s a public holiday, businesses do not close, and most people just spend time with family or go swimming and basking at the beach.
Thanksgiving in Australia is celebrated on the last Wednesday of November. They celebrate this holiday just like Americans in many ways. For instance, they consume the same dishes-turkey just to mention a few.
Thanksgiving is celebrated every first Thursday of November. Most people gather in their places of worship to praise and give thanks to the Almighty God. They also go to concerts and dancing and gather for special meals.
Other countries that celebrate Thanksgiving include Brazil, Netherlands, the Philippines, Rwanda, India, and the U.K.
Similarly, festival holidays occur in Germany, the ‘Harvest Festival’ Celebrated every first Sunday of October, and Japan Labour Thanksgiving Day celebrated on November 23.
Thanksgiving Traditions And Rituals
Focusing mainly on Americans, the Thanksgiving celebration originally had religious significance, but this faded away over time.
Nowadays, people mainly focus on fun activities like cooking and having a nice meal with friends and family. The turkey may or may not have there during the first Thanksgiving, but it is one thing that has remained the main part of the tradition.
Statistics show that about 90% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, whether deep-fried, baked, or roasted. Other thanksgiving foods include cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and stuffing.
Charity events have become an everyday activity on this particular holiday. Most Communities hold food and clothes drives and give free meals for the homeless, the elderly, the street kids, and kids in foster homes.
City parades have become a common scene in many towns and cities across America. It normally features performers, bands matching, etc.
Another common ritual is the pardon practice. In the mid-20th century, the United States president “pardoned” one or two Thanksgiving turkeys each year.
The turkeys were taken to a farm and spared from being slaughtered. Some governors in the states are still performing this ‘pardoning’ ritual.
Importance Of Thanksgiving
This holiday was initially a celebration of the bountiful harvest. It has been celebrated yearly to honor the harvest and other blessings during the preceding year. It is a wonderful holiday where we celebrate gratitude.
Thanksgiving reflects a sense of interconnectedness among the people and the different cultures. It’s also a perfect holiday where loved ones gather, especially family and friends, to express our love and gratitude for the blessings in our lives.
Thanksgiving is a reminder to appreciate all that makes us happy in life, including beloved family, friends, colleagues, and our lifestyle and good health. It focuses on all things positive, such as acts of kindness, for example, gifting.
Thanksgiving reminds humanity that there’s more to be thankful for than sad about. In short, Thanksgiving is a time for humans to stop and be thankful for everything good in life.
Common Thanksgiving Menus
The menu on thanksgiving often includes mashed potato recipes, stuffing recipes, and a turkey. For a proper meal, you need to have appetizers, salads, and post-dinner treats. Below are some of the typical thanksgiving menus.
1. Grill-Lover’s Menu
Main dish: Spice turkey and grilled citrus.
Sides: Skillet cornbread with honey butter, Hassel back potatoes, with Maple Vinaigrette.
Desserts: ginger pumpkin pie, caramel apple slab pie, bread pudding sauce.
2. Classic Menu
Main dish: Roasted turkey and rosemary gravy.
Sides: Broccoli and cauliflower gratin, fresh herb stuffing, composed Walldorf salad, sweet potato casserole, parker house rolls, corn salad with bacon and honey.
Dessert: fruit, nut trifle, and pecan slab pie.
3. Traditional American Menu
Main dish: butter roasted turkey.
Side Dishes: sundried cranberry salsa’ green beans, creamy mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing with sage, and pork sausage.
4. Vegetarian Menu
Starters: Strawberry toast, ricotta, and corn fritters
Main dish: Mushroom herb gravy, turkey roast
Sides: Mashed potatoes, corn muffins, peas and tomato, mac and cheese,
Dessert: Apple cranberry pie, apple blossom tart,
5. Vegan Menu
Starters: Salad, vegan stuffed mushrooms,
Main dish: Roasted cauliflower
Sides: Mac and cheese, dairy-free mashed potatoes,
Dessert: pumpkin pie
Why Turkey Is Eaten On Thanksgiving
Turkey being the main meal on Thanksgiving is a bit of a mystery. The history is not clear, but different people have a few different theories.
When the pilgrims shared a meal with the Wampanoag Indians during the first Thanksgiving, it is believed that beef and fowl were the main meal.
Although it is actually not clear which types of fowl were part of that meal, it is strongly believed that there was a turkey on the menu.
This was supported by a letter written by Edward Winslow, a pilgrim, who reveals that there was a turkey hunting trip prior to the meal.
A turkey is large enough to feed a whole family and remain relatively affordable from a more practical perspective.
Thanksgiving is a day that several countries, including Australia, have marked to celebrate the good and the blessings in their lives.
The day originated from America after being announced by Abraham Lincoln during the civil war. Different counties celebrate Thanksgiving Day for different reasons.
Australia has not been left behind in this practice. Although not most of their population observes the day, it is evident that the holiday is becoming quite popular within the region.
Western culture is slowly being introduced to the larger population. Modern Thanksgiving is about family, gratitude, and thankfulness.