Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays because it’s centered around spending time with family, expressing gratitude, and of course, delicious food. Although it's mostly known as an American holiday, it’s also celebrated in several countries around the world. Some are directly inspired by America's version, while others are completely distinct. Nevertheless, each holiday celebrates giving thanks.
As classic as traditional Thanksgiving foods are, it’s always fun to switch things up from time to time. From our northern neighbors in Canada to parts of Europe, Asia, and more, there are lots of ways to add some international flare to your seasonal spread. Below, we’ve compiled a few that will definitely make your Thanksgiving dinner the talk of the family.
DAY OF CELEBRATION: 2nd Monday of October
RECOMMENDATION: Tourtière (French Canadian Meat Pie)
In Canada, Thanksgiving is about thanking God for watching over the country’s early explorers. One of the tastiest holiday staples is tourtière, a golden-crusted pie stuffed with seasoned ground meat (usually pork and beef). It's super simple to make and a great way to feed a hungry group.
Brazil (Dia de Ação de Graças)
DAY OF CELEBRATION: Dia de Ação de Graças, 4th Thursday of November
RECOMMENDATION: Feijoada (Black Bean Casserole)
Believed to be inspired by American Thanksgiving, Dia de Ação de Graças is basically the same holiday, sprinkled with some Brazilian flair. Many of the same foods are enjoyed, along with food from the local cuisine, like feijoada, which is considered Brazil’s national dish. It consists of stewed black beans, salted beef and pork, but can also include other meats. It’s traditionally served with rice, collard greens, or farofa.
Germany, Austria & Switzerland (Erntedankfest)
DAY OF CELEBRATION: Erntedankfest, late September or 1st Sunday of October
RECOMMENDATION: Schupfnudeln (Potato Fingers)
According to German Foods, Erntedank dates back to pre-Christian pagan times. It's a celebration to give thanks for food, fortune, and an abundant harvest. One popular symbol in American Thanksgiving actually originates from Erntedank — the curved goat’s horn filled with fruit and grains, known as a cornucopia, or “horn of plenty.” When it comes to plenty, kids and adults alike will enjoy Schupfnudeln, which is a potato noodle that’s similar to dumplings. They are also referred to as “Fingernudeln” because they look like little fingers. Easy to make at home, you can enjoy them savory or sweet.
DAY OF CELEBRATION: 4th Thursday of November
RECOMMENDATION: Dutch Apple Pie
Unsurprisingly, the Dutch also celebrate Thanksgiving. Many of the pilgrims actually came from The Netherlands. There, Thanksgiving is called 3 Oktoberfeest and is mostly celebrated in the city of Leiden. One local holiday food tradition that made its way to America is apple pie. The Dutch do apple pie differently though — rather than a simple pastry pie crust, it’s baked with a streusel topping that gives it a crumbly consistency.
DAY OF CELEBRATION: Gǎn'ēnjié, 4th Thursday of November
RECOMMENDATION: Chinese Five-Spice Turkey
Introduced to the country by American ex-pats, Thanksgiving has grown to become somewhat of a popular holiday in China. Along with sharing the same dates, each are about showing appreciation for your loved ones. It's called “Gan’en Jie” which means “thanks for grace.” Turkey is still a major Thanksgiving staple in China, but rather than herb-roasted, it’s honey-glazed and seasoned with Chinese 5-spice.
DAY OF CELEBRATION: 1st Thursday of November
RECOMMENDATION: Liberian Jollof
Thanksgiving made its way to Liberia via former U.S. slaves. Unlike our own, it doesn’t revolve around food, but rather religion and the thanking of God for life and health. For those that choose to cook on Thanksgiving, jollof rice is a popular go-to. Liberian jollof rice is a smokey mixture of rice, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spices unique to the local cuisine. It’s usually served with vegetables and different types of meats.
DAY OF CELEBRATION: Pongal, Month of Thai/Around January 14th & 15th
RECOMMENDATION: Goan Pork Vindaloo
Pongol is a harvest holiday celebrated across South India. The word “pongol” translates to “the boiling of milk and rice.” Locals believe that by honoring the Sun, it will bring them prosperity, peace, and joy. A popular go-to for this holiday in South India is Goan-style pork vindaloo. Spicy and savory, Goan pork vindaloo is not to be confused with British-style vindaloo. Reserve this for family members that enjoy food with a kick. It’s a lengthy recipe that takes several hours, but totally worth the flavorful results.
DAY OF CELEBRATION: 4th Thursday of November
Celebrated on the same day as America's Thanksgiving, Puerto Rico adopted the holiday after becoming an incorporated U.S. territory in 1898. Since then, it's grown to be a mixture of classic and local staples. Pastelón is a hearty recipe that's sure to impress. It's similar to lasagna, yet is made with layers of plantains and ground beef, which gives it a sweet and savory taste.
DAY OF CELEBRATION: Chuseok, celebrated over three days during September (The 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar)
South Korea’s version of Thanksgiving is called “Chuseok,” or Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s also a major holiday, so much so, that it lasts three days long. Families celebrate the year’s harvest, honor their ancestors and eat lots of food. A surefire party-pleaser are wanja-jeon, or Korean beef patties. Easy to make and super delicious, they’re simply pan-fried ground meat, vegetables, eggs, and tofu. Trust us, wanja-jeon is one of the best remedies for impatient dinner guests.