Exploring fall traditions and the true meaning of “Thanksgiving”

Gain knowledge and awareness by exploring fall traditions, learning more about the “how” and “why” of Thanksgiving celebrations.

Individuals can gain knowledge and awareness by exploring fall traditions like pumpkin carving or Thanksgiving – their original meaning, or why and how people celebrate. These rituals connect individuals as a family, school, culture, race and community. Allison M. Woods, author of “More than memories: The importance of traditions,” explains that traditions create a bridge between the young and the old – between the past and the present. Does your family celebrate with a special dinner feast? Does your school perform a traditional thanksgiving play? Do educators take the opportunity to teach about the Native Americans and early settlers? Does your community have a food drive for the less fortunate? Youth serving organizations, like Michigan 4-H provides 4-H Community Service projects. The American Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, as well as celebrate the autumn harvest.

Researching thanksgiving traditions or the history of the thanksgiving holiday can provide awareness of history passed down from generations; it can also become the base of a youth’s understanding of his or her heritage. How do other areas of the globe celebrate the fall harvest? Reviewing and comparing similarities of harvest celebrations around the world  can be very interesting and educational. For instance, did you know that there’s a mid-autumn moon festival in Vietnam called the “Tet Trung Thu?” Or that in India, what began as a harvest festival – the “Diwali” – is India’s festival of lights and is one the most important holidays? China has various lunar festivals; the “Monkey God Festival” is one example. Japan has many festivals to research, enjoy, compare and learn about, as well – the harvest festival “Aki Matsuri” is one example.

Researching fall crafts, recipes and decorating can be inspiring and motivational, plus fun to do individually or as a family. The fall holiday traditions also provide an opportunity to educate youth to help them understand and reflect on what it means to be thankful and grateful.

Learn more about Thanksgiving by visiting the following resources:

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