Originally posted on VillageLivingMagazine.com
Happy October, Toronto! As the leaves start to fall and pumpkin spice lattes make a comeback, it is hard not to get excited about the Thanksgiving holidays. Did you know that Thanksgiving is only one of many holidays celebrating the harvest? Harvest time is a commonly celebrated time of the year across all cultures. As the harvest symbolizes the success of farmers and their crop, holidays celebrating the harvest are typically associated with feasts and food. Though harvest is celebrated at different times of the year in different cultures, most are celebrated by the reunion of families and amazingly delicious foods! Other harvest holidays include Incwala celebrated in Swaziland, South Africa, Chuseok celebrated in Korea and Vaisakhi celebrated in the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan. As Toronto is known for being a multi-cultural city, we wanted to highlight some holidays (not just harvest-related ones) being celebrated internationally around the time we celebrate Thanksgiving.
Literally meaning “Feast of Tabernacles”, this Jewish holiday lasts for eight days and is celebrated by eating meals inside a hut or tabernacle structure. Readings of the Torah and special prayers are also made during this festival. This holiday is intended to reminiscence the 40 years of travelling the Israelites did in the desert after escaping slavery in Egypt.
Midautunm Festival (Southeast Asia) & Thadingyut Holidays (Burma)
Midautumn Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar when the moon is full at night. This festival celebrates the coming together of families for the harvest, thanksgiving and also for making wishes. Many children would get to light lanterns or set floating lanterns in the sky. Mooncake, a traditional sweet made of lotus paste and salted egg yolk, is also commonly eaten at this time.
Día de Muertos (Mexico)
Celebrated over the course of 3 days, Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican holiday used to honour ancestors who have passed. This is generally celebrated by building colourful altars or going to the graveyard to clean, decorate and bring offerings of food to the dead. In celebration, families eat a sweet bread with a bone pattern on top called “pan de muerto”. Unlike North American Halloween, spirits and “ghosts” are not depicted to be scary but are rather celebrated and honoured. Altars are typically decorated to celebrate the life of the person being remembered and bright colours are used. Family members will also serve the favourite foods of their passed love ones.