Thanksgiving—The Fruits of Fall

by Peter Pabisch

The American Thanksgiving holiday represents not only the largest family festival of the year besides Christmas and, maybe Easter, it also occurs regularly toward the end of November (on the fourth Thursday of the month). The entire country celebrates this holiday which unites families and plays an eminent role in America’s social life. There is, as we know, also a historical message in this event as it commemorates the first festive meal shared by the Anglo-Saxon Pilgrims and Native Americans.

It is somewhat different in Europe. Here they celebrate a successful food harvest which provides for winter. The Germans and Austrians especially follow the custom of the farmers thanking the graciousness of the powers of the environment, first the weather, for providing a good harvest. Thus, thanksgiving celebrations are held mostly in churches where they thank God in high masses which can last several hours. The churches are beautifully decorated for the occasion and the various field fruits, as they call them, are featured in impressive arrangements. After mass people share meals in the local restaurants and enjoy special food and drinks. They also visit and admire a town’s gala procession of decorated field wagons, marching groups of people in special local outfits, and embellished farm animals such as cows with huge bells or enormous crowns and polished and scrubbed horses pulling prettified farm carts. A local brass band playing folklore melodies invite the viewers to swing along in dancing rhythms or even sing along with a well-known tune.

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