In the spirit of festive feasting (hello, Thanksgiving), we’re taking a moment to look at how other cultures gather around a big meal to celebrate with family and friends. While Thanksgiving is an American holiday that pays homage to the Pilgrims giving thanks for a good harvest year, a celebratory feast is a common theme across cultures all over the world.
Purim is celebrated to commemorate when the Jewish people in the ancient Persian empire were saved, and today it’s one of the liveliest Jewish celebrations. Some might say it resembles an American Halloween because of the costumes and masquerades that are featured prominently during the celebration. During Purim, revelers aim to “eat, drink and be merry,” and the holiday is marked by giving gifts of food and drink to those in need.
Eid al-Fitr, Egypt
Meaning “Feast of Breaking the Fast” and signifying the end of Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting), Eid al-Fitr is centered around good food and company. In Egypt, Eid al-Fitr is observed over three days, and the streets are often packed with families, friends and neighbors celebrating together.
In Vietnamese, the expression “ăn Tết” literally translates to “eat the New Year.” Some of the featured dishes are vegetarian, as it’s believed to be good luck to eat vegetarian on this particular holiday. Popular foods include roasted watermelon seeds, pickled leeks and Bánh chưng and bánh dầ, sticky rice with meat or bean fillings wrapped in Dong leaves.
Fiestas Patrias, Chile
Honoring Chile’s independence day, this holiday involves a whole lot of eating signature Chilean food. Dishes are either prepared at home or procured at fonda, tents decorated for Fiestas Patrias. Traditional foods include empanadas, grilled meats and drinks like chicha, a fermented apple beverage.
Day of the Dead, Mexico
The Day of the Dead honors loved ones that have passed away by inviting them to “come back” for a visit. Elaborate altars and structures (called ofrendas) are built in tribute at local cemeteries. No expense is spared for this holiday, and the altars (called ofrendas) are full of the traditional pan de muerto (a sweet roll made for the holiday), tortilla, fruit, peanuts and more.
What’s your favorite holiday to celebrate with good food and friends? Tell us in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org!