Wait, but… Australia? Isn’t that a country-continent over 9,000 miles away from America, and a nation that became independent only as recently as 1901? How is it, then, that an American-specific historical holiday could travel such a mighty distance in both time and miles? No matter how you cut it, the fact remains the same: Thanksgiving has leapt a cultural and watery barrier to land squarely in a rather surprising place- Australia. Welcome to Thanksgiving in Australia, 2016.
Evidence of Turkey Gorging
Don’t try to act innocent, Australians. More than one media source has released information regarding the upsurge in turkey sales the last few years on and around Thanksgiving Day, and numbers don’t lie. To date, Thanksgiving has reached its highest point of popularity in the country from “down under.” Many hotels and restaurants now advertise turkey-specific specials around the American “Turkey Day,” and certain bars even host events that celebrate the American Super Bowl.
How a holiday like Thanksgiving could transcend national boundaries the way that it has is somewhat self-explanatory. Thanksgiving, for the most part, is a day for joining together, giving thanks, and gorging on delicious foods. Its roots may be founded in American soil, but its general concept is internationally agreeable. Many American expatriates can be found lounging in the Australian sun and it is no surprise that they may have brought the holiday along with them. Halloween is another American holiday that has similarly captured the Australian imagination and taken flight in popularity.
The Original Story
Thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims in 1621 after their first harvest in the “New World.” They had a feast that lasted three days and which was attended by both European pilgrims and Native Americans. This type of thankful celebration would have been a common practice for our religious pilgrims, but the feast has since become a historic event that would later translate into a public holiday. Celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving truly is a time for giving thanks- and feasting.
While we might be able to claim Thanksgiving as an American original, many North American holidays are mash-ups of other religious and cultural celebrations. Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are all examples of celebrations that, while we associate them with America, certainly have roots elsewhere around the world. What makes holidays special is the beautiful blend of peoples and ideas that gave birth to them. Australia, we are happy to share Thanksgiving with you- and we hope, perhaps, to borrow something someday in return. Happy Thanksgiving!