THREE STORIES IN THE KEY OF: US-STYLE THANKSGIVINGS AROUND THE WORLD
Many countries around the world observe some sort of autumn harvest festival but some, for various reasons, have actually adopted their own versions of the US Thanksgiving tradition. Here’s a global Thanksgiving sampler dish from Kevin Allison:
Liberia: Beginning in the 1820s, thousands of free blacks and former slaves set out from the US for the new colony of Liberia, which had been established by the American Colonization Society, an unlikely coalition of northern abolitionists and southern slaveholders founded to promote the migration of African-Americans to Africa (or, alternatively, their deportation from the United States). Within a few decades, most of the colony’s original settlers had succumbed to disease, and today their descendants comprise just 5 percent of the country’s population. But Liberians still gather every November 1 to dine on roasted chicken, mashed cassava, and green bean casserole in homage to the original American holiday traditions that their ancestors brought across the Atlantic.
Grenada: The celebration of American Thanksgiving in the tiny Caribbean island nation of Grenada dates back to the Cold War. In October 1983, the country’s popular Marxist leader, Maurice Bishop, was overthrown and killed by his deputy prime minister, sparking violent protests across the country. Citing concerns about the safety of American students at a local medical school, then-US President Ronald Reagan launched an invasion, code-named Operation Urgent Fury, to restore order on October 25. Elections followed a year later, and Grenada has remained a democracy to this day. Since then, Grenada has celebrated October 25 officially as Thanksgiving Day, to honor the US intervention.
Canada First!: Many historians date the first Thanksgiving-style celebration in Canada to 1578, when the pirate-explorer Sir Martin Frobisher made safe passage to present-day Newfoundland – a full four decades before the America’s Pilgrim forebearers sat down for their autumn harvest with Wampanoag Indians in today’s Massachusetts. Canada may have Given Thanks first, but over the years the occasion has taken on trappings of its American counterpart – including a main dish of turkey, allegedly popularized by pro-British colonists who left the newly independent United States for Canada after the American Revolutionary War.