• 25 October 2022

Are you looking for a Thanksgiving celebration with a unique and exciting twist? Trying to plan a fun family holiday or cosy couples getaway for this year or next? Thanksgiving could be the perfect reason for you to take a short trip

Countries across the globe celebrate this holiday in many forms; giving you a number of travel options. Expat Explore is here to tell you how your Thanksgiving 2022 and 2023 holiday trips could take you further abroad than the USA

Roast turkey with cranberries and green beans, thanksgiving
Turkey is a classic feature of Thanksgiving Day traditions in the USA.

Thanksgiving in the USA – what is Thanksgiving and why is it celebrated?

Traditionally, Thanksgiving as most of us know it, is the American version. On the last Thursday in November in the USA, families and friends gather to give thanks and share what they are grateful for. The holiday has roots in the early colonies of the USA. In 1621, the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest after arriving in the New World. Members of the nearby Native American tribe, who had taught them how to survive and harvest corn, joined in with the celebrations.

Today, at a typical Thanksgiving celebration dinner you’ll enjoy turkey, pumpkin pie,  cranberry sauce and more. Plus, there is Thanksgiving football and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade to enjoy! 

Turkey float at Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade
People across the States tune in to watch the Macy’s Day Parade broadcast live from New York City.

Related: Discover more of America’s annual holidays and festivals!

Where else do people celebrate Thanksgiving?

However, the USA is not the only country that celebrates Thanksgiving Day. Several countries around the world celebrate their own Thanksgiving Day with totally unique traditions! One thing they all have in common is that the holidays revolve sound the concept of gratitude.

Here are five countries that also celebrate Thanksgiving traditions from around the world. One of these could be your next Thanksgiving holiday destination! Experiencing something new and encountering different cultures makes Thanksgiving the best time to travel. These vacation spots are great options, whether you are looking for an exotic getaway or a classic celebration closer to home. 

1. Canada
Family and friends cheers and enjoy dinner thanksgiving
Family and friend get-togethers are at the centre of Thanksgiving celebrations in Canada.

Thanksgiving in Canada takes place over a month earlier than the celebrations of their neighbours in the USA. On the second Monday in October, family and friends gather to share thanks over a special meal. In many ways, Canadian Thanksgiving is similar to American Thanksgiving. There is also a parade and a whole load of football! Canadian Thanksgiving is actually North America’s first Thanksgiving, first taking place in 1578 and becoming a national holiday across most of the country in 1879!

Related: See the highlights of Eastern Canada and the USA on a North America tour.

2. Japan
Mount fuji and japanese architecture in autumn thanksgiving
Visit Japan in November to experience Kinrō Kansha no Hi.

If you are planning a trip to Japan in late November, you may be able to celebrate Japan’s Labour Thanksgiving Day national holiday; known in Japanese as Kinrō Kansha no Hi. Every year, on November 23, people across the country celebrate hard work and community. The holiday has roots in an ancient harvest festival called Niiname-sai. After WWII, the modern holiday was established to celebrate workers and their expanded rights in post-war Japan. Celebrations take place throughout Japan and school children make cards for police, firefighters and other municipal workers to say thank you. 

Related: Why not plan your Japan vacation around these Japanese festivals?

3. Germany
Chruch alter decorated for Erntedankfest Germany thanksgiving
Churchgoers decorate altars with produce to celebrate Erntedankfest in Germany.

On the first Sunday of October, people in Germany get together to celebrate Erntedankfest! The German version of Thanksgiving is an autumn harvest celebration and originated as a rural festival. Attend various Erntedankfest across Germany and you can look forward to church services, country fairs, parades and music; sometimes you’ll see fireworks displays in the evening!  One of the German traditions is the Erntekrone (Harvest Crown) which is presented and displayed. At dinner, people enjoy chicken and goose along with traditional Thanksgiving turkey. 

Related: Include Germany on your next trip with one of these exciting European tours

4. The Netherlands
Canal side view of Leiden in the Netherlands thanksgiving
Leiden in the Netherlands. This Dutch town was home to the Pilgrims before they sailed to the New World in the 1600s.

Did you know that before they arrived in the New World, the Pilgrims spent many years living in Leiden in the Netherlands? Although it’s debated, many historic accounts suggest that the Pilgrims in the USA derived their inspiration for Thanksgiving from the annual Drie Oktober celebrations they would have no doubt encountered while living in Leiden. Drie Oktober commemorates the Dutch victory over the Spanish Siege of 1574. In the city of Leiden, locals pay homage to the Pilgrims of the past on the date of America’s Thanksgiving. You can attend a Thanksgiving Day Service at Pieterskerk – the final resting place of John Robinson, one of the Pilgrim leaders.

Related: Find out more about another one of the Netherland’s most exciting festivals here!

5. Liberia
Beach and palm trees in Liberia thanksgiving
Coastal views in Liberia, West Africa.

Thanksgiving in America inspires many of Liberia’s Thanksgiving traditions as Liberia was founded by freed slaves from the USA. In 1847 it became an independent country and many of its traditions pay homage to traditions of the USA (the capital city is even named after US President James Monroe). Celebrated in Liberia on the first Thursday of November, Liberian Thanksgiving celebrates freedom and opportunity. On the day, Liberians will attend church services and will bring along an array of fresh fruit. Following the service, the fruit will be auctioned. Afterwards, families will gather at home for a delicious meal – the menu is similar to the American version with local twists including chicken and mashed cassava. 

Destinations like Brazil, Barbados, Israel, Malaysia, China and Ghana also play host to their own versions of Thanksgiving festivals, stemming from Harvest season celebrations which reach back centuries! 

Tips for travelling during Thanksgiving break: 

Thanksgiving Day falls during the shoulder season in many of these countries, making it a more affordable time to travel. One of the best travel tips is to plan your getaway for shoulder season – which can be different times for the differing countries. It will be worthwhile to find out which countries offer the best time to take your Thanksgiving break

Heading to destinations that may be quieter or less busy also gives you a chance to avoid larger crowds and long queues at top attractions. Autumn is also a beautiful time to travel, particularly in Europe!

Wherever, and however you celebrate it, Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude and a time to give thanks for what we have in our lives. At Expat Explore, we’re grateful that travel is back and better than ever! Have a look at our upcoming tours and start planning your next adventure.

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