November is fast approaching and with it, Thanksgiving. We tend to think Thanksgiving is a strictly American celebration of eating Turkey and watching football, but in truth, cultures all around the world celebrate the harvest in many ways. Colorful clothes, festivals, events and feast are only a few examples of these celebrations.
While we give thanks for the bountiful harvest and gorge ourselves on turkey and other traditional Thanksgiving meals the Pearly Kings and Queens of London, also known as Britain’s second royal family, will parade through the streets to St. Mary Le Bow church for a Thanksgiving service. Dressed in their best dark suits covered in hundreds of bright pearl buttons the Kings and Queens pay homage to Henry Croft, the founder of the tradition. In order to raise money for charities Croft took inspiration from the Costermongers who used to line the seams of their pants with pearl buttons found on the street, coating his whole suit in pearls. It wasn’t long before the people of London took notice and Croft used his popularity to raise money for Charity.
Similar to Croft, the Pearly Kings and Queens use their fame to give back to the community. Doreen Golding, the Pearly Queen of Old Kent Road and Bow Bells told CNN, “It doesn’t matter what faith you are. At the end of the year, when all the crops are gathered and have been given to people in the community, it’s typical to then give them out to all the homeless people who haven’t got any food.”
While the clothing choices may not be as extreme the harvest celebration in West Sumatra, Indonesia is equally as exciting. In celebration of the end of the rice season, many farmers cow surf. This daredevil act entails riding a wooden plank while holding the tails of two harnessed bulls. The people of Sumatra flock to the seen to watch the farmer’s being torn through the mud by bulls as part of the traditional sport known as Pacu Jawi, which shows the strength of the bulls who will later be auctioned.
In search of a more tame celebration? Try Chuseok, also known as the Korean Thanksgiving. With a strong focus on family the people of Korea celebrate by making songpyeon, a certain kind of rice cake filled with sesame seeds, chestnuts, red beans, or other similar ingredients with their family and close friends. Families endure hours of traffic to visit their ancestral properties in their hometowns and make offerings of newly harvested foods and the family made songpyeon.
While many of these celebrations seem wildly different from the modest and traditional American Thanksgiving, they all share a central theme. Each harvest celebration allows people to come together and give thanks for all they have received, a perfect way to begin the holiday season.