Thanksgiving seems like a holiday that’s as American as apple pie (or pumpkin pie for some of us), but, actually, versions of this celebration take place in many of the countries around the world that are home to our Fessenden students. Customs and menus may vary, but giving thanks for the bounties of the harvest is at the center of them all. Whether or not there is a turkey involved, these observances all revolve around a community recognizing its good fortune.
For instance, our Canadian students follow traditions that arise from the same European harvest festivals that led to our own American version. Canadian Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1578, and became a national holiday in 1879. Feasting on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn are common to our neighbors to the north, as well.
The boys who come to us from Japan celebrate Kinrō Kansha no Hi, a national public holiday of Japan that takes place every November 23. Derived from ancient harvest festival rituals, it is sometimes known as Labor Thanksgiving Day.
In China, the Moon Festival has been celebrated for over 3,000 years. It is a three-day mid-autumn harvest feast, a time when families gather to light lanterns, watch fiery dragon dances, admire the moon, and eat mooncakes. Our Chinese students enjoy American dishes like sweet potatoes and pumpkin along with their favorite dishes, such as dumplings and mooncakes, for a delicious celebration of the autumn harvest.
Whether our students come from Mexico, Korea, Great Britain, or any of the countries that make up our global Fessenden community, they all celebrate the fall season with an array of traditions and customs that give thanks for their blessings. Fessenden is a rich amalgam of these many cultural contributions, and we are a more vibrant group as a result. We are a whole that is, in fact, greater than the sum of its many parts.
At our school, the importance of community is never more evident than during the yearly gathering of our boarding students and residential faculty for a very special Thanksgiving feast in the Sanderson Dining Hall. This opportunity to express our gratitude together is an essential element of building the kinds of connections and shared experiences that make Fessenden the special place it is—a global village with much to be thankful for.