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Erntedankfest: How Germans Have fun Thanksgiving

The tradition of celebrating a harvest is common in several countries around the world. Canada and the United States have Thanksgiving, Argentina has the Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia, and Japan has Kinro Kansha no Hi. In Germany, they also have a tradition of watching the harvest, and every year the country hosts the Erntedankfest, an autumn festival where people thank God for the harvest and relax after months of hard work.

But Thanksgiving isn’t quite like North American Thanksgiving! The German festival features bustling parades, seductive altars decorated with products from the region, and lots of music and dance, among other things.

Want to learn more about Thanksgiving in Germany? Then read on and find out all about one of the most fascinating Thanksgiving celebrations in the world!

Everything about Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving in Germany

What is Thanksgiving Day and How It Started

The Harvest Festival (“Thanks for the Harvest Festival”) is an annual festival that takes place around the time of the main harvest in a particular region. The festival is a religious holiday and is celebrated in both the Catholic and Protestant churches in Germany with busy processions, music, dance, church services and typical food.

Thanksgiving began as a rural festival to thank God for the harvest and to relax after months of hard work.

When is Thanksgiving Day celebrated?

Thanksgiving ceremony (Thanksgiving altar) in the church

As dismantled by the Catholic Church in 1972, the harvest festival in German-speaking countries is celebrated on the first Sunday in October, which is usually also the first Sunday after Michaelmas Day (29.

According to tradition, the entire harvest must be completed by Michaelmas so that the farmers can move on to the winter phase of the cycle.

How Germans celebrate Thanksgiving

Old plow young farmers at the Thanksgiving Parade in Rosenheim, Germany

The harvest festival is a popular German festival that offers a delightful maze of traditional activities. There is usually a parade called the “Thanksgiving Parade” with lavishly decorated caravans, and the altars of the churches are beautifully decorated with sheaves of wheat and the fruits of the harvest. During the parade, the harvest queen is presented with a traditional wheat “harvest crown”.

The celebrations can vary depending on the German region. In some communities, people fill baskets with local produce, including freshly baked bread, and give it to those in need.

Thanksgiving also includes church celebrations that begin with sermons and choir singing, as well as a lantern parade for the children.

In rural areas, the harvest festival is more of a folk festival with neighborhood festivals and city parades, where the locals dress up in traditional costumes, while in larger cities the celebration is organized by the church, a fireworks display around 7 a.m.

What foods are eaten at Thanksgiving?

Hearty Thanksgiving dinner with vegetables and turkey.

The common food eaten during Thanksgiving is different from the typical Thanksgiving dishes of North America such as turkey, pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes. In Germany they mostly eat the so-called broiler chickens, which are chickens that are bred to fatten more meat. There is also the capon, a castrated and fattened rooster, and the poularde, a sterilized and fattened hen. There is really no food for this holiday that is served in all of Germany

Is Thanksgiving the same as American Thanksgiving?

Farmer's wife in a field with colorful organic vegetables as healthy food

While Erntedankfest corresponds to Erntedankfest in the United States and Canada, the German festival is a religious festival. And long before the first Europeans arrived in North America, farmers across Europe celebrated harvest time.

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