Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Giving Thanks Around the World

Thanksgiving is here! Let’s take a look at the meaning behind this holiday in the US, and what its traditions have in common with celebrations in other parts of the world. And learn to say “thank you” in different languages!

Harvest Celebrations

basket with food itemsThe first Thanksgivings celebrated by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians were a celebration of a good harvest.

Harvest celebrations are held in every part of the world, throughout the year. For example, Vietnam celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival, and Israel celebrates the festival of Sukkot. (Check out our post for fun and easy kids crafts that celebrate these harvest celebrations and more.)

Giving Thanks

hands holding "give thanks"Thanksgiving is an opportunity to pause our hectic schedules, and appreciate all that we have to be grateful for.

In the US, we generally express our gratitude with the words “thank you,” with meaningful gifts, and with gestures like hugs and handshakes.

Every language has its own way of saying the words “thank you,” as shown in this colorful thank you poster with 40 different languages (e.g., Gracias, Danke, Salamat, Obrigado, Hvala, Paldies, Diolch, Tack, Gijtto, Falemindert, Asante, Merci).  Each culture has its own unique set of norms for showing gratitude, as well. In India, for example, people only actually say “thank you” to strangers, not loved ones.  And, in the Philippines, the act of giving is given more importance than the actual item being given.

Sharing a Meal with Loved Ones

people sharing a holiday mealThanksgiving’s “main event” is the meal. While the stuffed turkey is the star of the show, just as important are the sides of cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and countless others.

The first Thanksgiving menu in 1621 likely included seafood, like mussels and lobster, and a dish cooked inside a hollowed-out pumpkin.

There are a variety of traditional dishes enjoyed at gatherings in the winter months. In Mexico, tamales are a popular dish. In Japan, people dine on hot Udon soup. Speckknödel (dumplings) is traditional in Germany. See our post for more winter holiday dishes, with links to recipes.

What’s your favorite part of the Thanksgiving holiday? Comment below and share your unique traditions!

“Happy Thanksgiving” by Faith Goble via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/8UykdQ

“A holiday feast with my dearest friends, Masako and Satch Takayasu” by Ron Frazier via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/pEzNEZ

5 Kid Crafts that Add Multicultural Traditions to Your Thanksgiving

little hands making heart over earth drawing

Bring cultural diversity and international flavor to your Thanksgiving with these five easy kid crafts. The best part? They can all be made with materials you probably already have. Plus, they involve minimal mess and are simple enough for most kids to complete on their own. (You can also check out our previous posts for ways to celebrate a bilingual Thanksgiving, at home or in the classroom.)

Thanksgiving: Here and Around the World

The first Thanksgiving was an occasion for people to gather together and celebrate a good harvest. Most cultures around the world have harvest celebrations, though not always in November. (Abraham Lincoln was actually the first US president to propose an official Thanksgiving holiday in our country. You can read more about Thanksgiving history here.) Harvest celebrations coincide with a country’s seasons and the kind of crop they are harvesting.

Thanksgiving Crafts Inspired By Multicultural Traditions

1. India: Pongal – Kolam Chalk Drawings

Kolam phot By Benedict (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Photo by Benedict via Wikimedia Commons

Kolam photo By Vishnu.116 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsPhoto by Vishnu.116 via Wikimedia Commons

Pongal, the harvest festival of Southern India, is celebrated in January or February. It celebrates the successful harvest of rice, sugar cane and tumeric. Kolam drawings are traditionally symmetrical and placed in front of doors. These drawings are believed to bring happiness and prosperity. For this activity, you just need some colored chalk and clear weather outside.

2. Israel: Sukkot – CD SuncatcherSukkot CD suncatcher diversity craft

The festival of Sukkot, celebrated in September or October, is a time to remember the culture’s agricultural roots. The holiday centers around a special kind of dwelling called a “sukkah,” which has a roof of organic material, like palm leaves. The inside of the sukkah is strung with bright, shiny decorations. Make this craft with old, scratched CDs, and anything shiny and colorful you have on hand.

3. Vietnam: Mid-Autumn Festival – Lanternsmid-autumn festival lantern diversity craftmid-autumn festival lantern cultural diversity

The Mid-Autumn Festival on August 15th celebrates a successful harvest and also honors children. Kids get special lanterns and take part in a parade. Our lanterns are made from paper and tape, and can inspire your own kids’ parade at home!

4. Portugal: Madeira Flower Festival – Headbands and Hatsmadeira hat multicultural craftmadeira hat instructions international craft

The Madeira Flower Festival takes place in the Spring, when flowers are abloom. The festival features a parade with floats and flowers everywhere, especially worn on clothing. Kids can make flowers out of any material you have: gift wrap, kleenex, colored paper, paper towels, or scraps of fabric. The flowers can be secured with pipe cleaner, tape, yarn, or rubber bands onto headbands, hats, belts or any article of clothing. If the weather is nice, the kids can have a parade, in true Flower Festival spirit.

5. United Kingdom: Harvest Festival – Corn Husk DollsUK Harvest Doll multicultural craftharvest doll instructions diversity craft

The UK’s Harvest Festival happens in September or October, and includes singing and decorating churches with baskets of food. One traditional harvest time craft is making corn husk dolls. Since I didn’t have corn husks on hand, I used scraps of fabric. Once completed, kids can make hair from yarn and clothes from felt.

Give these crafts a try this Thanksgiving, and add some multicultural traditions to your celebration. That’s one more wonderful thing to be thankful for!

This blog post is linked with the monthly Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop. Be sure to check out other bloggers’ tips, teaching strategies, and resources!

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

 

Teaching Thankfulness in Bilingual Classrooms

teaching thankfulness bilingual classroom

What a perfect time of year to focus on gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness! Having family and friends to share our lives with, food on the table, clean water to drink and a roof over our heads is something that adults and children alike can take time to reflect on during this holiday season.

In bilingual classrooms, the topic of thankfulness can involve language learning as well as cultural sharing. Not only do we say “thank you” with different words, the way we show our appreciation differs from culture to culture as well. What a wonderful opportunity for students to learn more about cultures around the world this week!

Here 5 activities to help your students focus on thankfulness during this holiday season: Continue reading Teaching Thankfulness in Bilingual Classrooms

Thanksgiving and Immigrant Cultures

Is this what you will teach your students this Thanksgiving?

By guest author: Corey Heller

Stories about the origins of the North American celebration of Thanksgiving abound. Some attribute it to the Pilgrim’s prayerful appreciation for having survived an arduous journey across the sea. Others claim that it commemorates the kindness of the Native Americans who helped them survive a cold winter without food. Still others say it stems from the originally pagan tradition of giving thanks for yet another bountiful summer crop.

Whatever the origins of this North American holiday, most of us can agree that it is a holiday motivated by feelings of appreciation, humility, and kindness. At the heart of Thanksgiving is our deepest gratitude for simply being alive to witness one more day. It is about surviving in a world bombarded by uncertainty and change. No one can know what tomorrow will bring, and all we can do is appreciate what we have right here and right now.

Immigration is central to the Thanksgiving story. The New World was a destination for European settlers searching for new beginnings, merchants seeking unlimited resources, and sadly, African slaves transported unwillingly to a strange new land. These newcomers, in turn, inundated and overpowered the Native Americans who had been living on this bountiful land for many generations. Ultimately, they too became immigrants in their own land, as they were pushed farther and farther to unknown territories.

Thanksgiving tells the tale of the settler, each with his or her own personal history. Our ancestors brought traditions tucked away in travel bags between sorrows of lands lost and hopes for a new and better life. Immigration has played an intrinsic role in all Americans’ lives: this movement of peoples has formed America into what it is today.

Continue reading Thanksgiving and Immigrant Cultures