8 Thanksgiving Celebrations Around the World

8 Thanksgiving Celebrations Around the World

1. Canada

It may surprise you to learn that Canada’s first Thanksgiving celebration actually predates America’s—by more than 40 years. In 1578, an expedition led by the English navigator Martin Frobisher held a ceremony in what is now Nunavut, giving thanks for the safety of their fleet. This is considered the first-ever Thanksgiving celebration in North America, though in fact First Nations (the indigenous peoples of Canada) and Native Americans had been holding harvest festivals long before Europeans arrived. Loyalists who moved to Canada during the Revolutionary War introduced turkey, along with some other customs from the American Thanksgiving. Canada’s Parliament formally established a national Thanksgiving Day (November 6) in 1879; as of 1957, the date was changed to the second Monday in October. Thanksgiving traditions in Canada look very similar to American ones, including eating turkey and watching football (the Canadian Football League holds an annual Thanksgiving Day Classic) with family.

2. Germany

The German equivalent of Thanksgiving is Erntedankfest (“harvest festival of thanks”). This religious holiday often takes place on the first Sunday in October, which is often also the first Sunday following Michaelistag (Michaelmas) on September 29; different places mark the occasion on various dates in September and October. Though rural areas take the harvest festival concept more literally, churches in German cities also join in on the celebration, giving thanks for the good fortune their congregations experienced that year. During a typical Erntedankfest, celebrants may carry an Erntekrone (“harvest crown”) of grains, fruit and flowers to the church in a solemn procession, and feast on such hearty fare as die Masthühnchen (fattened-up chickens) or der Kapaun (castrated roosters).

3. Liberia

This West African republic may seem an unlikely place for an American-style Thanksgiving tradition, but only until you consider its history. Freed slaves from the United States established Liberia in the early 1820s with help from the American Colonization Society, a private organization that believed returning African Americans to the country of their origins would provide them with greater opportunity, help spread Christianity to Africa and solve the nagging problem of slavery in the United States. In the early 1880s, Liberia’s government passed an act declaring the first Thursday of November as National Thanksgiving Day. Today, it’s a largely Christian holiday: Churches auction off baskets filled with local fruits like papayas and mangoes after their services, and local families feast on the bounty. Instead of turkey and pumpkin, Liberia’s Thanksgiving tables boast items such as spicy roast chicken and mashed cassavas, and live music and dancing are part of the Thanksgiving tradition.

4. Japan

Japan’s variation of Thanksgiving, Kinro Kansha no Hi (Labor Thanksgiving Day) evolved from an ancient rice harvest festival, Niinamesai, the roots of which go back as far as the seventh century A.D. During the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the date of the festival was set as November 23, and it has remained the same since then. The modern tradition of Labor Thanksgiving Day began in 1948, just three years after World War II ended, as a celebration of the rights of Japan’s workers. Today, the public observes it as a national holiday, but with none of the huge feasting you’ll see on the American holiday. Instead, labor organizations lead events at which citizens are encouraged to celebrate the principles of hard work and community involvement. To mark the occasion, children often make thank-you cards for policemen, firefighters or other municipal workers.

5. Norfolk Island

This remote island in the Pacific Ocean, a former British penal colony and current Australian territory, is another unlikely place for a holiday celebration with American roots. In fact, its Thanksgiving tradition dates back to the mid-1890s, when the American trader Isaac Robinson decided to put on an American-style Thanksgiving service in the All Saints Church in Kingston in order to attract some visiting American whalers to the celebration. His plan worked, and parishioners on the island—otherwise best known for its namesake pine tree—continue to celebrate the holiday today, bringing fruits, vegetables and cornstalks to decorate the church and singing American hymns on the last Wednesday of November each year.

6. Grenada

Every October 25, people on this West Indian island celebrate their own Thanksgiving Day, which marks the anniversary of a joint Caribbean and U.S. military invasion of Grenada in 1983. The troops’ arrival restored order after an army coup ousted and executed Maurice Bishop, Grenada’s socialist leader, and put the island under martial law. While stationed on the West Indian island that fall, U.S. soldiers told local citizens about the upcoming American holiday and some of its traditions. To show their own gratitude, many people in towns and villages hosting the soldiers invited them to dine and celebrate with them, even surprising them with such non-native island foods as turkey, cranberry and potatoes. Today, the Grenadian Thanksgiving features formal ceremonies of remembrance in the cities, but largely goes unmarked in more rural areas.

7. The Netherlands

It’s sometimes forgotten that of the English settlers who traveled to the New World on the Mayflower, some 40 percent spent the years 1609 to 1620 living and working in the Dutch city of Leiden. As a result, some have claimed that the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving celebration was actually inspired by Leiden’s annual commemoration of the breaking of the Spanish siege in 1574. In any case, the people of today’s Leiden continue to celebrate their ties with the Mayflower’s passengers by holding non-denominational church services on the fourth Thursday of November.

8. Puerto Rico

After Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States in the late 19th century, its residents enthusiastically adopted many of the traditions of the holiday. They celebrate it on the same day (fourth Thursday in November) and embrace the same Black Friday shopping craziness on the following day. But Puerto Ricans have put their own twist on the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast: There is usually turkey—whether a roasted, seasoned pavochón or a turkey stuffed with mofongo (a mashed plantain dish)—but roast pork is also a common item on the menu, accompanied with more plaintains, rice and beans.


Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.

November 4, 2021 (Liberia)
November 24, 2021 (Norfolk Island)

November 3, 2022 (Liberia)
November 30, 2022 (Norfolk Island)


The history of Thanksgiving is much more complicated than many people were taught

Almost every American student learns about the story of the original Thanksgiving in school: In 1621, the new American colonists were struggling to survive in the harsh weather, and that the Native Americans helped out and shared food out of the kindness of their hearts.

The darkness of the holiday stems from two things. First, things were truly harrowing for the new "Americans." They were suffering from exposure, scurvy, and outbreaks of contagious diseases. Second, the way students are taught about the holiday makes it seem like the colonists and the indigenous people had a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship — that wasn't the case. In fact, the two became embroiled in a devastating, bloody war just a generation after the famous feast.

To this day, people are so upset about the holiday and the way it is portrayed that protesters congregate every year on Thanksgiving, and some say it should be canceled for good. They have taken to calling it a "National Day of Mourning."


4. Japan

Japan marks a November holiday called Labor Thanksgiving Day, traditionally held on the 23rd. Its historical beginning goes back to the harvest celebration of Niiname-no-Matsuri, which was a Shinto ritual enacted by the Emperor. It picked up the Labor Thanksgiving Day name and official holiday status during the post-World War II occupation of Japan by the United States. The modern interpretation of the event commemorates labor, production, and peace. School children make cards for public servants like health care workers, police, firefighters, and members of the Japanese Self-Defense Force and Coast Guard. Family dinners are a staple of the day.


The History of Thanksgiving and its Celebrations

Thanksgiving 2011: November 24

Throughout history mankind has celebrated the bountiful harvest with thanksgiving ceremonies. At these ceremonies, many exchange Thanksgiving gifts and are reminded of everything they have to be thankful for.

Before the establishment of formal religions many ancient farmers believed that their crops contained spirits which caused the crops to grow and die. Many believed that these spirits would be released when the crops were harvested and they had to be destroyed or they would take revenge on the farmers who harvested them. Some of the harvest festivals celebrated the defeat of these spirits.

Harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations were held by the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Hebrews, the Chinese, and the Egyptians.

The ancient Greeks worshipped many gods and goddesses. Their goddess of grains was Demeter who was honored at the festival ofThesmosphoria held each autumn.

On the first day of the festival married women (possibility connecting childbearing and the raising of crops) would build leafy shelters and furnish them with couches made with plants. On the second day they fasted. On the third day a feast was held and offerings to the goddess Demeter were made – gifts of seed corn, cakes, fruit, and pigs. It was hoped that Demeter’s gratitude would grant them a good harvest.

The Romans also celebrated a harvest festival called Cerelia, which honored Cerestheir goddess of grains (from which the word cereal comes). The festival was held each year on October 4th and offerings of the first fruits of the harvest and pigs were offered to Ceres. Their celebration included music, parades, games and sports and a thanksgiving feast.

The Chinese

The ancient Chinese celebrated their harvest festival, Chung Ch’ui, with the full moon that fell on the 15th day of the 8th month. This day was considered the birthday of the moon and special “moon cakes”, round and yellow like the moon, would be baked. Each cake was stamped with the picture of a rabbit – as it was a rabbit, not a man, which the Chinese saw on the face of the moon.

The families ate a thanksgiving meal and feasted on roasted pig, harvested fruits and the “moon cakes”. It was believed that during the 3 day festival flowers would fall from the moon and those who saw them would be rewarded with good fortune.

According to legend Chung Ch’ui also gave thanks for another special occasion. China had been conquered by enemy armies who took control of the Chinese homes and food. The Chinese found themselves homeless and with no food. Many staved. In order to free themselves they decided to attack the invaders.

The women baked special moon cakes which were distributed to every family. In each cake was a secret message which contained the time for the attack. When the time came the invaders were surprised and easily defeated. Every year moon cakes are eaten in memory of this victory.

The Hebrews

Jewish families also celebrate a harvest festival called Sukkoth. Taking place each autumn, Sukkoth has been celebrated for over 3000 years.

Sukkoth is know by 2 names – Hag ha Succot – the Feast of the Tabernacles and Hag ha Asif – the Feast of Ingathering. Sukkoth begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, 5 days after Yom Kippurthe most solemn day of the Jewish year.

Sukkoth is named for the huts (succots) that Moses and the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land. These huts were made of branches and were easy to assemble, take apart, and carry as the Israelites wandered through the desert.

When celebrating Sukkoth, which lasts for 8 days, the Jewish people build small huts of branches which recall the tabernacles of their ancestors. These huts are constructed as temporary shelters, as the branches are not driven into the ground and the roof is covered with foliage which is spaced to let the light in. Inside the huts are hung fruits and vegetables, including apples, grapes, corn, and pomegranates. On the first 2 nights of Sukkoth the families eat their meals in the huts under the evening sky.

The Egyptians

The ancient Egyptians celebrated their harvest festival in honor of Min, their god of vegetation and fertility. The festival was held in the springtime, the Egyptian’s harvest season.

The festival of Min featured a parade in which the Pharaoh took part. After the parade a great feast was held. Music, dancing, and sports were also part of the celebration.

When the Egyptian farmers harvested their corn, they wept and pretended to be grief-stricken. This was to deceive the spirit which they believed lived in the corn. They feared the spirit would become angry when the farmers cut down the corn where it lived.

The United States

In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim’s fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. They found they had enough food to put away for the winter.

The Pilgrims had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.

The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770’s) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Observance of the day began in 1879.


9 Other Countries That Celebrate Thanksgiving

The American holiday of Thanksgiving traces its roots all the way back to 1621, when colonists held a harvest feast with local natives. In 1861, Abraham Lincoln declared an official Thanksgiving day in late November. In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt attempted to move the holiday a few days earlier, but after widespread discontent, eventually consented to make it an official holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of each November.

Over the years, specific traditions and customs associated with the holiday have evolved, from watching afternoon football games to marking the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The basic components of the holiday -- celebrating food and the fall harvest and giving thanks with family -- have remained over time.

These basic elements can be seen in national holidays in other parts of the world. Some of these holidays are feasts of harvest and thanks completely unrelated to the U.S. holiday, and others are versions of the American tradition, albeit with modifications. Many are held on or near the fourth Thursday in November, while others are as early as September. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed nine other countries and territories that celebrate a version of Thanksgiving.

Three countries in particular have Thanksgiving celebrations that are nearly identical with the American custom.

Canada, America’s neighbor to the north, shares many of the same Thanksgiving traditions, both culinary and cultural. Due in part to its proximity, traditions once unique to one country or the other have blended over the centuries.

Similarly, because Liberia was founded by freed American slaves, many American traditions, including Thanksgiving, are also celebrated in the West African nation.

In the 1800s, an American trader brought the feasting tradition to Norfolk Island, located east of Australia, and the tradition has remained.

The remaining countries on this list have a holiday either celebrating the autumn harvest or a celebration of gratitude, or some combination of the two. In Germany, an autumnal celebration known as Erntedankfest, is intended to celebrate the fruits of the fall harvest.

In Grenada, people celebrate and give thanks in formal ceremonies primarily in urban areas.

In China, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam, the celebration is tied to both giving thanks in some way and celebrating the harvest.

The are the nine countries that celebrate thanksgiving.

The other Thanksgiving Americans are most likely to be familiar with is the Canadian Thanksgiving. Older than the American tradition, the first Canadian Thanksgiving is believed to have been held in 1578. The occasion, drawing inspiration from similar European holidays, was a way for early settlers to appreciate the fruits of a successful harvest.

Though the Canadian holiday is older than its American counterpart by more than 40 years, it has actually adopted some traditions from the American holiday. Leading up to and during the Revolutionary War, many American colonists loyal to the British Crown moved to Canada and brought some Thanksgiving traditions with them, including the iconic turkey. Today, the menu at a Canadian Thanksgiving celebration involves many of the foods Americans are familiar with, including pumpkin pie, stuffing, and sweet potatoes. Unlike in America, however, Canadian Thanksgiving is held on the second Monday in October and is not a public holiday in every province.

The Chinese celebrate an annual holiday around the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. The celebration, known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, typically falls in late September or early October, when the moon is fullest and brightest. Much like the American Thanksgiving, the festival originated as a holiday to express gratitude for the changing of the seasons and to celebrate the fall harvest.

There are several notable differences between Mid-Autumn Festival and American Thanksgiving. For one, the Chinese holiday is much older. The holiday’s roots can be traced back more than 2,500 years, long before Europeans ever set foot in the new world. Additionally, rather than Thanksgiving staple pumpkin pie, the favorite Chinese dessert is moon cake, a baked concoction filled with sesame seeds, ground lotus seeds, and duck eggs.

The annual harvest festival in Germany, known as Erntedankfest, is typically held on the first Sunday in October. Not a family oriented holiday, Erntedankfest has less in common with the American tradition than harvest celebrations in may other countries. Celebrations throughout Germany, typically put on by Protestant and Catholic churches alike, are marked by parades, fireworks, music, and dancing. Additionally, while turkey is the favorite fowl among Americans, Germans are more likely to celebrate the harvest with chickens, hens, roosters, or geese.

The origins of Thanksgiving in Grenada, though considerably different from the American holiday's origins, are inextricably tied to the United States. Political turmoil in the island nation of Grenada culminated in a 1983 military coup and, ultimately, the execution of popular Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. The ensuing power vacuum left the country in chaos. Concerned about Cuba exerting communist influence on the country and the welfare of some 800 American medical students enrolled at a university on the island, President Ronald Reagan invaded the island on October 25, 1983. Though the invasion was met with widespread global criticism, many Grenadians were grateful. Having learned of the American tradition, Grenadians put together Thanksgiving feasts for American troops across the country.

Since the invasion, October 25 has been named Thanksgiving Day on the island. The national holiday of gratitude and remembrance is celebrated primarily in more urban areas across Grenada.

On November 23, people in Japan celebrate a holiday similar to both American Thanksgiving and Labor Day. The national holiday, known as Kinrō Kansha no Hi, or Labor Thanksgiving Day, traces its origins back more than 2,000 years to a ritual offering thanks for the season’s first rice harvest.

The widely celebrated modern manifestation of the holiday is oriented around giving thanks for workers rights. Labor Thanksgiving Day officially became a holiday in 1948 and is celebrated in different ways throughout the country. The city of Nagano hosts an annual labor festival and draws attention to matters relating to human rights and the environment. In Tokyo, preschool students make crafts for the city police force. The ancient harvest festival is still celebrated in private by the Imperial Family.

6. Norfolk Island

A version of the American Thanksgiving has extended as far as the other side of the world, to the remote Norfolk Island, off the eastern coast of Australia. Home to just over 2,000 people, Norfolk Island was a British penal colony for some time and was frequented by whalers and traders from the United States. In the late 1800s, one such trader, American Isaac Robinson, visited the island and held a traditional Thanksgiving at a local church. Robinson died soon thereafter, but the tradition has persisted among locals to this day.

Today, residents celebrate Thanksgiving with a feast that is slightly different from the traditional feast, with pork and chicken and bananas, although there is pumpkin pie. Rather than on the fourth Thursday in November, Norfolk Island celebrates Thanksgiving on the last Wednesday of the month.

Though South Korea is half a world away, people in the country celebrate a holiday very similar to the American Thanksgiving. The holiday, known as Chuseok Day, is held in the mid to late September, this year falling on the 15th of the month. Koreans typically spend Chuseok Day with their family and give thanks to their ancestors.

Chuseok is also a day for Koreans to celebrate the autumn harvest. Just as in America, this is often done by sharing a meal with family members. Celebrations across the country are marked with traditional national customs, including ancestor memorial services, Korean wrestling, and Korean circle dances.

Founded by freed American slaves 1847, Liberia’s culture and government is influenced heavily by the United States. The country modelled its founding document after the U.S. constitution, and it practices some of the America’s most iconic cultural traditions, not the least of which is Thanksgiving. In Liberia, Thanksgiving typically involves a church service, after which harvest crops are auctioned off. Families then return home to feast, much like in America.

There are also some minor differences between Thanksgiving in Liberia and the United States. While the American holiday is held on the last Thursday in November, the Liberian Thanksgiving is held on the first Thursday in November. More importantly perhaps are the culinary differences. Because turkeys and pumpkins are hard to come by in Liberia, roast chicken and mashed cassavas usually comprise a traditional Thanksgiving meal in the West African nation.

Similar to China, the Vietnamese equivalent to American Thanksgiving is held on the 15th day of the eighth month on the lunar calendar. According to Vietnamese folklore, the holiday, known as Têt-Trung-Thu Festival or the Children’s Festival, is held as a way for parents, once busy with the harvest, to make amends with their children who may have felt neglected.

While the origins of the holiday vary considerably from the American tradition, many of the fundamentals are the same. The Vietnamese use the holiday to give thanks and celebrate with family.


Contents

The earliest purported Women's Day observance, called "National Woman's Day", [13] was held on February 28, 1909, in New York City, organized by the Socialist Party of America [14] at the suggestion of activist Theresa Malkiel. [15] There have been claims that the day was commemorating a protest by women garment workers in New York on March 8, 1857, but researchers have alleged this to be a myth intended to detach International Women's Day from its socialist origin. [16] [17] [18]

In August 1910, an International Socialist Women's Conference was organized ahead of the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, Denmark. [19] Inspired in part by the American socialists, German delegates Clara Zetkin, Käte Duncker, Paula Thiede, and others proposed the establishment of an annual "Women's Day", although no date was specified. [7] [16] [20] The 100 delegates, representing 17 countries, agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights, including women's suffrage. [21]

The following year, on March 19, 1911, the first International Women's Day (IWD) was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. [14] In the Austria-Hungary alone, there were 300 demonstrations, [16] with women parading on the Ringstrasse in Vienna, carrying banners honoring the martyrs of the Paris Commune. [16] Across Europe, women demanded the right to vote and to hold public office, and protested against employment sex discrimination. [3]

IWD initially had no set date, though it was generally celebrated in late February or early March. Americans continued to observe "National Women's Day" on the last Sunday in February, while Russia observed International Women's Day for the first time in 1913, on the last Saturday in February (albeit based on the Julian calendar, as in the Gregorian calendar, the date was March 8). [22] In 1914, International Women's Day was held on March 8 for the first time in Germany, possibly because that date was a Sunday. [22] As elsewhere, Germany's observance was dedicated to women's right to vote, which German women did not win until 1918. [22] [23] Concurrently, there was a march in London in support of women's suffrage, during which Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested in front of Charing Cross station on her way to speak in Trafalgar Square. [24]

Adoption by socialist and communist movements Edit

On March 8, 1917 in Petrograd, women textile workers began a demonstration that eventually engulfed the whole city, demanding "Bread and Peace"—an end to World War I, to food shortages, and to czarism. [22] This marked the beginning of the February Revolution, which alongside the October Revolution, made up the Russian Revolution. [3] [25] Revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky wrote, "23 February (8th March) was International Woman's Day and meetings and actions were foreseen. But we did not imagine that this 'Women's Day' would inaugurate the revolution. Revolutionary actions were foreseen but without a date. But in the morning, despite the orders to the contrary, textile workers left their work in several factories and sent delegates to ask for the support of the strike… which led to mass strike. all went out into the streets." [22] Seven days later, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. [14]

In 1917, following the October Revolution, Bolsheviks Alexandra Kollontai and Vladimir Lenin made IWD an official holiday in the Soviet Union. [26] On May 8, 1965, the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet decreed International Women's Day a non-working day in the USSR, "in commemoration of the outstanding merits of Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Fatherland during the Great Patriotic War, in their heroism and selflessness at the front and in the rear, and also marking the great contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples, and the struggle for peace. But still, women's day must be celebrated as are other holidays." [ citation needed ]

After its official adoption in Soviet Russia, IWD was predominantly celebrated in communist countries and by the communist movement worldwide. Communist leader Dolores Ibárruri led a women's march in Madrid in 1936 on the eve of the Spanish Civil War. [16] Chinese communists observed the holiday beginning in 1922, [16] though it soon gained traction across the political spectrum: In 1927, Guangzhou saw a march of 25,000 women and male supporters, including representatives of the Kuomintang, the YWCA, and labor organizations. [27] After the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949, the State Council proclaimed on December 23 that March 8 would be made an official holiday, with women given a half-day off. [28]

Adoption by United Nations Edit

IWD remained predominantly a communist holiday until roughly 1967 when it was taken up by second-wave feminists. [16] The day re-emerged as a day of activism, and is sometimes known in Europe as the "Women's International Day of Struggle". In the 1970s and 1980s, women's groups were joined by leftists and labor organizations in calling for equal pay, equal economic opportunity, equal legal rights, reproductive rights, subsidized child care, and the prevention of violence against women. [29] [30]

The United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day in 1975, which had been proclaimed the International Women's Year. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as an official UN holiday for women's rights and world peace. [31] It has since been commemorated annually by the UN and much of the world, with each year's observance centered on a particular theme or issue within women's rights.

International Women's Day sparked violence in Tehran, Iran on March 4, 2007, when police beat hundreds of men and women who were planning a rally. (A previous rally for the occasion was held in Tehran in 2003.) [32] Police arrested dozens of women and some were released after several days of solitary confinement and interrogation. [33] Shadi Sadr, Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh and several more community activists were released on March 19, 2007, ending a fifteen-day hunger strike. [34]

Adoption by corporations Edit

By the twenty-first century, IWD has been criticized as heavily diluted and commercialized, particularly in the West, where it is sponsored by major corporations and used to promote general and vague notions of equality, rather than radical social reforms. [35] A @[email protected] website was established in 2001 it sets out a yearly theme and hashtags, unconnected with the UN project. [36] In 2009, the website was being managed by the British marketing firm Aurora Ventures with corporate sponsorship. [37] [38] The website began to promote hashtags as themes for the day, which became used internationally. [39] The day was commemorated by business breakfasts and social media communications that were deemed by some social critics as reminiscent of Mother's Day greetings. [35] [29]

IWD 2010 Edit

On the occasion of 2010 International Women's Day the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) drew attention to the hardships displaced women endure. The displacement of populations is one of the gravest consequences of today's armed conflicts. It affects women in a host of ways. [40]

IWD 2011 Edit

Though the celebration in the West was low-key, events took place in more than 100 countries [10] on March 8, 2011, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. [41] In the United States, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2011 to be "Women's History Month", calling Americans to mark IWD by reflecting on "the extraordinary accomplishments of women" in shaping the country's history. [10] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the "100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges", on the eve of IWD. [42] In the run-up to 2011 International Women's Day, the Red Cross called on States and other entities not to relent in their efforts to prevent rape and other forms of sexual violence that harm the lives and dignity of countless women in conflict zones around the world every year. [43]

Australia issued an IWD 100th anniversary commemorative 20-cent coin. [44]

In Egypt, in Tahrir Square, Cairo, hundreds of men came out not to support, but to harass the women who came out to stand up for their rights as the police and military stood by watching, doing nothing to stop the crowds of men. [45]

IWD 2012 Edit

Oxfam America invited people to celebrate inspiring women in their lives by sending a free International Women's Day e-Card or honoring a woman whose efforts had made a difference in the fight against hunger and poverty with Oxfam's International Women's Day award. [46]

On the occasion of International Women's Day 2012, the ICRC called for more action to help the mothers and wives of people who have gone missing during armed conflict. The vast majority of people who go missing in connection with conflict are men. As well as the anguish of not knowing what has happened to the missing husband or son, many of these women face economic and practical difficulties. The ICRC underlined the duty of parties to this conflict to search for the missing and provide information to the families. [47]

IWD 2013 Edit

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) drew attention to the plight of women in prison. [48]

The theme for International Women's Day 2013 was "A promise is a promise: time for action to end violence against women." [49]

It was reported the 70% of women worldwide experience some sort of physical and/or sexual violence in their life. Irina Bovoka, UNESCO Director General on International Women's day 2013, stated that in order "to empower women and ensure equality, we must challenge every form of violence every time it occurs." [50] In view of the increase in violence against women and following the brutal attack on Malala Yousafzai in October 2012, the UN focussed their attention on ending violence against women and made this the central theme for International Women's Day 2013. UNESCO acknowledged that violence against young girls was one of the major reasons for girls not attending school and subsequently collaborated with governments around the globe to support women's rights in providing a quality education in a safe environment. [51]

For a more cultural and artistic celebration, UNESCO also held a concert in Paris as a "Tribute to Women in Music: from the romantic to the electronics". [52]

IWD 2014 Edit

American singer Beyoncé also posted an International Women's Day video to her YouTube account. Throughout the video, her song "Flawless" plays, which includes a portion of the "We Should All Be Feminists" speech given by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. [53]

IWD 2015 Edit

Governments and activists around the world commemorated the 20th anniversary year of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, an historic roadmap that set the agenda for realizing women's rights. [54]

IWD 2016 Edit

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, said: "On the occasion of International Women's Day, I extend warm greetings and good wishes to the women of India and thank them for their contributions over the years in the building of our nation." [55] The ministry of women and child development announced the setting up of four more one-stop crisis centers on March 8, in addition to the eight already functioning across the country. [56] Ahead of Women's Day, the national carrier Air India operated what it claimed to be the world's longest non-stop flight where the entire flight operations were handled by women, as part of International Women's Day celebrations. The flight, from Delhi to San Francisco, covered a distance of around 14,500 kilometers in around 17 hours. [57]

IWD 2017 Edit

In a message in support of International Women's Day, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres commented on how women's rights were being "reduced, restricted and reversed". With men still in leadership positions and a widening economic gender gap, he called for change "by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world". [58]

IWD 2018 Edit

The UN theme for International Women's Day was: "Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.

Global marches and online campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, which originated in the United States but became popular globally, allowed many women from different parts of the world to confront injustice and speak out on issues such as sexual harassment and assault and the gender pay gap. [59]

IWD 2019 Edit

The UN theme for International Women's Day was: 'Think equal, build smart, innovate for change'. The focus of the theme was on innovative ways in which to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. [60]

The federal state of Berlin marked International Women's Day as a public holiday for the first time.

IWD 2020 Edit

The UN theme for International Women's Day was: 'I am Generation Equality': Realizing Women's Rights'. [61] Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, street marches occurred in London, Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Moscow and other European cities. [62] [63] [64] [65] The Aurat March in Islamabad was marred by attacks from stone throwers, after a failed attempt to have it banned as un-Islamic. In Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, police detained dozens of marchers shortly after masked men reportedly attacked the march. [62]

Wikispore has a related page: Event:International Women's Day 2020

IWD 2021 Edit

The 2021 UN theme for International Women's Day is "Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world", highlighting the impact that girls and women worldwide had as health care workers, caregivers, innovators and community organizers during the COVID-19 pandemic. [66] The theme this year is: #ChooseToChallenge.

Wikispore has a related page: Event:International Women's Day 2021

IWD is an official holiday in several countries worldwide, including Afghanistan, [67] Angola, Armenia, [68] Azerbaijan, [69] [70] Belarus, [71] Burkina Faso, [72] Cambodia, [73] China (for women only), [74] Cuba, [75] Georgia, [76] Germany (Berlin only), [77] Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, [78] Kyrgyzstan, [79] Laos, [80] Madagascar (for women only), [81] Moldova, [82] Mongolia, [83] Montenegro, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, [84] Uzbekistan, [85] and Zambia. [86]

In some countries, such as Australia, [87] Cameroon, [88] Croatia, [89] Romania, [90] Bosnia and Herzegovina, [91] Bulgaria, [92] Vietnam, [93] and Chile [94] IWD is not an official public holiday, but is widely observed nonetheless.

Regardless of legal status, in much of the world, it is customary for men to give female colleagues and loved ones flowers and small gifts. In some countries (such as Bulgaria and Romania) it is also observed as an equivalent of Mother's Day, where children also give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers. [90] In the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, huge Soviet-style celebrations were held annually. After the fall of Communism, the holiday, generally considered to be one of the major symbols of the old regime, fell into obscurity. International Women's Day was re-established as an official "important day" by the Parliament of the Czech Republic in 2004 [95] on the proposal of the Social Democrats and Communists. This has provoked some controversy as a large part of the public as well as the political right see the holiday as a relic of the nation's Communist past. [95]

IWD is widely celebrated in France as Journée internationale des femmes. In Italy, the holiday is observed by men giving yellow mimosas to women. [96] [97] This originated with communist politician Teresa Mattei, who chose the mimosa in 1946 as the symbol of IWD because the predominant symbols of the day, violets and lily-of-the-valley, were too scarce and expensive to be used effectively in Italy. [98]

In the United States, actress and human rights activist Beata Pozniak worked with the Mayor of Los Angeles and the Governor of California to lobby members of the US Congress to propose official recognition of the holiday. In February 1994, by Beata Pozniak suggestion, the H. J. Res. 316 was introduced by Representative Maxine Waters, along with 79 cosponsors, in an attempt to officially recognize March 8 of that year as International Women's Day. The bill was subsequently referred to, and remained in, the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service. No vote of either house of Congress was achieved on this piece of legislation. [99] In Pakistan, the Aurat March has challenged misogyny since 2018. [100]


At the start of the festivities, have everyone write a few things they're thankful for on slips of paper and place them into a jar. After dinner is over, let everyone take turns drawing a slip out and try to guess who put which "thanks" into the jar. Not only is it a fun way to see how much you all know about each other, it also encourages everyone to get creative about what they're thankful for this holiday.

Counterintuitive as it may seem, Thanksgiving isn't actually the most helpful day of the year to volunteer at your local soup kitchen many charities find themselves flooded with one-time volunteers without the space or time to teach them how to help. But that doesn't mean you can't make the world a better place on Thanksgiving.

Instead of the usual wine or flowers, ask each of your guests to bring canned goods or clothing that you can donate to a local shelter after the holiday. Or sit down together and plan out a day in the future for the whole family to volunteer for a charity.


Theological controversy surrounded the Feast of the Immaculate Conception for centuries. However popular celebration of this holiday dates back to at least the eighth century. The argument related to the meaning of the word “immaculate”, which in this context refers to the belief that Jesus’ mother Mary was conceived without original sin, according to Christian belief.

Many theologians throughout Christian history, including St Thomas Aquinas, questioned the Immaculate Conception. It remained open for debate for many years until Pope Pius IX proclaimed it to be an essential dogma in the Catholic Church on December 8, 1854. The written document on this is known as the Ineffabilis Deus. Since then, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the belief that Mary was born without sin and that God chose her to be Jesus’ mother. Many Anglicans in the world also hold this belief.


Religious Commemorations Around the World

From Diwali and Aboakyere to Easter and Passover, explore some of the many religious holidays celebrated across the globe.

The Effutu people of Ghana make a special offer to the god Panche Otu each spring with this deer&ndashhunting festival. Two teams of men and boys, dressed in bright costumes, compete to be the first to bring back a live deer to present to the chief. Then everyone dances together. No Weapons Allowed

In Ghana, during the festival of Aboakyere, hunters go out to capture an antelope. But they have to bring it back alive, and they can't use any weapons.

Arapaho Sun Dance

A religious festival centering on the sun dance takes place during summer in Wyoming. Cheyenne, Arapaho, Shoshone, and members of other Plains Indian tribes dance around a pole topped with a buffalo's head. The buffalo is a symbol of plenty, and dancers wish for good fortune in the year ahead.

People celebrate this Christian holiday by going to church, giving gifts, and sharing the day with their families. In some parts of Europe, "star singers" go caroling singing special Christmas songs as they walk behind a huge star on a pole.

Santa Claus got his name from Saint Nicholas, a bishop of the town of Myra, who was known for being especially kind to children. Today, Myra is part of the country of Turkey.

French children know Santa Claus as Père Noël . He usually wears a long red hooded robe with white fur around the edge. He carries presents in a basket on his back instead of a sack. He lives in Lapland . French children do not usually put out a stocking , but instead leave out their shoe.

To learn more about the history and traditions of Christmas, explore the Christmas Scrapbook.

Day of the Dead

On November 1 &mdash called Día de Los Muertos &mdash Mexicans remember their loved ones who have died by visiting them and having a meal right in the graveyard. Stores sell sugar&ndashcandy caskets, breads decorated with "bone" shapes, and toy skeletons.

There's a Skeleton in My Bread! On the Day of the Dead, Mexican families have a special meal in which they serve the Bread of the Dead. It's considered good luck to be the one who bites into the plastic toy skeleton that the baker hides in each loaf of this special bread.

Millions of tiny flames light up India during this festival of lights. The festival honors Lakshmi, India's goddess of prosperity. Small clay saucers filled with oil and a cotton wick are placed near houses and along roads at night. Women even float these saucers in the sacred Ganges River, hoping the saucers will reach the other side still lit.

To celebrate the Hindu holiday of Diwali, farmers dress up their cows with decorations and treat them with respect. The farmers show their thanks to the cows for helping the farmers earn a living. See How One Indian City Gets Ready for Diwali.

On Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. People attend church and also enjoy different Easter customs. In Germany, people make "egg trees" that are decorated like Christmas trees. In Hungary, boys sprinkle girls with perfumed water &mdash and in return, girls prepare a holiday dinner for them.

A Rabbit Egg? Long ago the Easter Bunny was called the "Easter Hare." The Easter egg hunt began because children believed that rabbits laid eggs in the grass.

For eight days each November or December, Jews light candles in a special candleholder called a menorah. They do this to remember an ancient miracle in which one day's worth of oil burned for eight days in their temple. On Hanukkah, many Jews also eat special potato pancakes called latkes, sing songs, and spin a top called a dreidel to win chocolate coins, nuts, or raisins.

To learn more about the history and traditions of Hanukkah, explore the Hanukkah Scrapbook.

In Mexico and many parts of Central America, people celebrate La Posada during the nine days before Christmas. It is a reenactment of the journey Joseph and Mary took to find shelter before the birth of their child, Jesus

Japanese people keep the memory of their ancestors alive with a festival held during the summer called Obon. People put lit candles in lanterns and float them on rivers and seas. They also visit and clean the graves of those who have died. In the ancient city of Kyoto, people light giant bonfires.

A Dancing Reunion: In the Japanese Buddhist tradition, a special dance called the Bon dance is held to guide the souls of dead family members back home.

The highlight of this major Jewish holiday is the Passover seder. During these two special dinners, families read from a book called the Haggadah about the ancient Israelites' exodus &mdash or flight &mdash from Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. While they honor their ancestors, Jews reaffirm the importance of freedom. See a Virtual Seder Plate.

Is It Bread Yet? Jewish people eat matzoh, a flat, unleavened bread made of flour and water, during the Passover holiday. They do this to remember their ancestors who, in order to escape from slavery in Egypt, left in such a hurry that there was no time for their dough to rise.

St. Lucia Day

To honor this third-century saint on December 13, many girls in Sweden dress up as "Lucia brides" in long white gowns with red sashes, and a wreath of burning candles on their heads. They wake up their families by singing songs and bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns called "Lucia cats."

During this holy time, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar year, Muslims do not eat, drink, or smoke from sunrise to sunset for an entire month. Instead, they spend their days in worship, praying in mosques. At the end of Ramadan, people celebrate with a festival known as Eid-al-Fitr.

Ready for more holidays around the world? Learn about harvest festivals and national holidays, and new year celebrations.

Explore Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa in-depth with the Celebrate Winter Holidays online activity.

Teachers: Looking for more ways to celebrate and teach patriotic holidays? Try this


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