Like many North American cultural practices, the Thanksgiving holiday is catching on in China — a little. And by introducing the original Thanksgiving and comparing the Mid-Autumn Festival, also called Moon Festival in China, some similarities between these two popular holidays can be found.
Thanksgiving in China is mainly celebrated among Canadians and US Americans, and sometimes teachers teach Chinese children about the holiday. But the kids and adults reinterpret the day to be a day for giving thanks to their parents, teachers, friends, and other people.
In the US, Thanksgiving is a non-religious holiday for showing gratitude for what you have. It is primarily a food-related holiday because historically the Pilgrims, who first settled America, gave thanks for surviving the first harsh winter by preparing a celebratory meal. It is observed on the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving in Canada, a similar observance, is celebrated on the second Monday of October. If Chinese people celebrate Thanksgiving, they celebrate it on the American date and usually relate it to the symbols of the holiday seen in the US, such as depictions of Pilgrims and Native Americans in their traditional dress, sailing ships, turkey, and pumpkin pie.
How Expats Celebrate on the Mainland
In China, many North American expats like to have a Thanksgiving meal and invite their local friends and workmates. However, finding turkey is problematical in most cities unless you can find an international grocery store. So people usually roast a goose or chicken instead. In many of the best international hotels, roasted turkey can often be had on Thanksgiving Day. Expats may also be able to order a turkey delivered on Thanksgiving Day from a hotel restaurant. New Chinese supermarkets in the big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing may also stock frozen turkey.
It is said that the Chinese are the only people other than North Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving. American teachers in China have been teaching kids about this holiday for several decades now, and it has caught on among younger people in China. Picking up on this American holiday, Chinese people generally think this is a time to have a Western meal and thank friends, family, workmates, and teachers or bosses. They call it “Gan’en Jie” (感恩节, literally: ‘thanks for grace holiday’). So foreigners in China might hear people say “thank you” and receive a small gift.
The holiday in China most similar to Thanksgiving is the Mid-Autumn Festival. All families are supposed to return to their parents’ home on Moon Festival. They send gifts to each other and have a big reunion dinner together, where everybody talks about blessings, hope and thankfulness. The 56 nationalities of Chinese people, as well as Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese, all spend the Moon Festival in their respective raditional ways. Given the unique meaning and the way of celebration, people also call it “Chinese Thanksgiving Day”.
Thanksgiving Special Offer!
Hanbridge Mandarin is running a Thanksgiving promotion, you can get up to 30% OFF for all the online Chinese courses before November 30th! Moreover, by taking the Chinese quiz about Thanksgiving, everyone have an opportunity to win the Chinese characters cards made by our teachers.