While I'm sure there are several others, I'm referring to Japan.
November 23, specifically, is designated a national holiday, called Labor (Labour?) Thanksgiving Day. Established in 1948, obviously with American occupation influence, it's a time for praising labor, celebrating production, and giving thanks. However, before 1948, it existed as a harvest festival. Unlike America, Japanese holidays are usually celebrated on specific days, though four of them are celebrated on the closest Monday. It just so happens that this year's Japanese Thanksgiving falls in the same week as the American Thanksgiving. Next year, it will be celebrated on Saturday - before Thanksgiving in the US.
As a national holiday, government offices and banks are closed, professionals are given the day off, and school children have a day to relax. However, most people just enjoy it as a day away from work. Nobody serves turkey and stuffing, and pumpkin pies are nowhere to be found.
Mmm. Pumpkin pie.
I'm sure Japanese people do get into the spirit of things a bit and reflect on what they are thankful for, but none of my students have mentioned that they are doing anything other than taking a short trip (three day weekend!) or staying home and relaxing.
However, I do have a lot to be thankful for this year. I'm thankful that I have a fun job in an exciting, new part of the world. I've lost a lot of weight this year and despite catching frequent colds thanks to my preschool classes I think I'm a good bit healthier. I have much less stress than I can remember for a long time. I've been able to travel around Asia and I'm continuing to do so for another year. My friends are healthy and happy - one of them is about to have her second child. My mother's so much healthier and happier than two years ago, and maybe for decades. The rest of my family is doing well and given the state of things in the world (the economy, Hurricane Sandy, tensions in the Middle East and here in Asia) things are at least okay with everyone I know.
I'm spending the day writing blog posts, doing odds and ends, and hopefully spending a good bit of time just relaxing. I hope all of my readers and friends out there can use this day as a time to reflect on the good things in their life, because it's so easy to focus on the negative. Until tomorrow, Happy Turkey Day!