Thanksgiving Traditions Around the World

When words won’t suffice, flowers are a means of communication and a way to express our emotions. Each flower’s meaning is determined by its color, size, and shape. Sending and giving flowers for various reasons has become a part of life. On holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc., many people send flowers as gifts.


Harvest festivals and celebrations like Thanksgiving were observed by the ancient Greeks, Romans, Jews, Chinese, and Egyptians. Thanksgiving has always been a symbol of tradition and exchange. People share food and send flowers to their loved ones. In ancient times, Thanksgiving was celebrated as a harvest festival, but it now exists as a holiday for gathering with family and friends to express gratitude for all that we have.

Thanksgiving is a day of reflection, gratitude, and food. It is a good time to take stock of your life and good fortune while many of us also enjoy turkey dinner with the family. While our Thanksgiving traditions are our own, giving thanks is a global practice. There are some harvest traditions around the world that follow their own customs but with a similar theme of appreciation.

South-African Christmas

If you want to celebrate gratitude in South Africa, you will be reaching for flowers. In fact, flowers are a common Christmas present in South Africa. The most popular flower to give as a gift in South Africa is the lovely hydrangea. We think giving flowers for Christmas is a good tradition no matter where you are in the world.

Germany Ernthedankfest

Ernthedankfest is a religious harvest festival celebrated throughout Germany. Church services include a sermon and choral singing followed by a thanksgiving procession. During this parade, the queen of the harvest is crowned with a wreath of grains, flowers, and fruits.

A festive and rustic fairground atmosphere reigns throughout the country with plenty of music and food for the occasion. While American influence has increased turkey consumption over the years, Erntedankfest is less about feasting with the family and more about celebrating the bounty of the year.

Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan

Labor Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in Japan. Citizens express gratitude to each other for the work done during the year and for the fruits of their labor. Workers' Thanksgiving dates back more than 2,000 years to the ritual of giving thanks for the first rice harvest of this season.

The widely celebrated holiday focuses on thanksgiving for workers' rights. Although the holiday is celebrated in different ways across the country, the city of Nagano hosts an annual labor festival that draws attention to issues related to human rights and the environment.

China Harvest Moon Festival/Mid-Autumn Festival

When the moon is at its brightest and fullest, this three-day festival takes place in the middle of the fall season. The China Harvest Moon Festival, also known as the Moon Festival r Mid-Autumn Festival, is a derivative of the original Chinese customs of sacrifice to the moon, where a series of prayers, verses, and offerings were burned to say thanks.

Nowadays, modern Chinese are much more accustomed to "appreciating the moon," by gathering at the table, talking and eating, and making offerings of sacrifice. Reflecting on the importance of unity, families give flowers to each other and eat moon cakes (round semi-sweet cakes) while children dance and play with holiday lanterns.

Japanese Cherry Blossom

Sakura, the Japanese name for Cherry Blossom, is very popular in Japan. It is a historical symbolic event, and all Japanese have a few days off work to watch the cherry blossoms bloom. The blooming means the beginning of spring.

The event in Japan is very large-scale. It even has its own weather forecast. The Japanese are very fond of this event, and people have come to Japan to see the cherry blossom festival from all around the world.

Leiden Thanksgiving Festival of Netherlands

Before leaving for America, about 40% of the pilgrims on board the Mayflower lived and worked for 11 years in the western Dutch city of Leiden. In search of freedom from religious persecution, the pilgrims returned to England, gathered supplies, and left for the New World.

Aspects of American life the Dutch claim to influence include chairs with stairs and wood-planked houses. The Dutch also claim to have influenced the celebration of Thanksgiving itself. Leiden residents honor these American connections by attending a non-denominational service at the restored Piterskerk Church every Thanksgiving morning.

Friend's Finland Day

Regarding the gift of roses in a non-romantic context, the Finns have adopted the rose as a symbol of appreciation between friends. In fact, every February 14th, Finns swap their traditional Valentine's Day for the more inclusive Friend's Day, a custom that began in the 1980s and hasn't disappeared since. We can't blame them. We believe in spreading (floral) love, romantic or not! In this spirit, the Finns celebrate Friend's Day by exchanging cards, sweets, and pink roses.

Many countries and cultures have different methods to say thanks and celebrate blessings with loved ones. Flowers play a special role in expressing feelings of happiness and gratitude and make our celebrations special.

Some countries have harvesting holidays to enjoy. Thus, Thanksgiving is being celebrated worldwide on different days, by sharing food and sometimes sending flower gifts to friends and family. If you are planning to show someone your gratitude and thinking of doing so with flowers, our floral experts at 1-800-Flowers Encinitas serving areas around Encinitas, CA can create the perfect Thanksgiving arrangement for any celebration.

Back to Blogs