What Thanksgiving Day is Like for Expats from These Countries

The roasted turkey amidst a table of plenty, which is surrounded by happy family members and friends, is a very familiar and welcome sight to all of us. Thanksgiving is just right around the corner, and Christmas is just a few weeks away.

Thanksgiving is an entirely family affair, but global mobility managers are aware some of their foreign assignees have no families with them and invite them over. The time may come when these guests might want to return the favor, and for one reason or another, express their gratitude in their own way to their American colleagues and superiors. 

Here’s what the global mobility managers can expect by then — and the dates they should mark on their calendars, and how they can celebrate it with talents from different parts of the world. For global mobility managers, it is well worth knowing another person’s culture and how they express their gratitude to the people they meet. One could call Thanksgiving with other cultures Friendsgiving as well.

Brazil is also on the same day, religious in tone

The Brazilian version, known as Dia de Acao de Gracas, is also held on the last Thursday of November. What makes it different from America’s Thanksgiving Day is its religious tone. The day starts with a church service where the Brazilians thank God for a good harvest. Then everyone has a rip-roaring fun time at the local carnival.

Canada and the centerpiece meal

America’s nearby neighbor holds its Thanksgiving Day on November 6, and it adheres closely to the traditions celebrated by western nations and their former commonwealths. It was first performed 400 years ago in 1578 by British explorer Martin Forbisher as his fleet safely arrived in the Canadian city now known as Nunavut. The centerpiece meal is similar to Americans with its combination of turkey, ham, or chicken. For those who like their sweets, pumpkin pie is the choice dessert. 

Israel calls it Sukot

The Israel assignee will call their Thanksgiving Day Sukot, a harvest festival that goes back thousands of years. Held from late September to late October, the seven-day Bible-based celebration is also one of reflection: the Israelis of today remember and give thanks for their escape from Egyptian slavery, and their safe travel through the desert to get to their promised land.

Japan’s handmade craft

If the young child of your Japanese assignee gives you a handmade craft as a gift, then chances are their own Thanksgiving celebration is near. In Japan, that special day is called Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinrō Kansha no Hi) and is usually held on November 23. The government instituted it in 1948, designed to express gratitude for the Japanese workforce and the contributions they made to society and the growth of industries. 

Korea is thankful for 3 days

Chuseok is an age-old Korean day of celebration which includes all members of their family, even those who have left this mortal plane. The three-day event involves returning to one’s hometown for a yearly reunion. It begins with a rite that honors the memories of their dearly departed and leads to a major cleaning of the latter’s burial ground. Afterward, food and drink are offered at first to the dead; later on, the living consume healthy, nutritious, and delicious amounts of Korean noodles and crescent-shaped rice cakes. Chuseok is celebrated on the 8th month of the lunar calendar.

United Kingdom, adopting an American tradition

One out of six Britons have adopted American Thanksgiving Day, mainly because they have come to love the tradition in their stay in the U.S.  Aside from the turkey on the table and family homecomings, they also added their own touch: giving gifts to their loved ones. In some U.S. and U.K. cities, this Anglicized version of the American day of gratitude has become known as “Brits-giving Day.”