Thanksgiving is just a week away, and Americans are ready to celebrate the season with family, football and most of all, food. But how do other countries commemorate the fall harvest and show their gratitude for another bountiful year? Here are four international “Thanksgivings” with traditional recipes you can incorporate into your feast on Thursday.
The Czech Republic celebrates Obzinky in late August or early September, at the end of harvest season. Workers make wreaths of corn, wheat and wildflowers, as well as a doll made of the last sheaf of wheat called the “Baba.” Landowners host a party and a dance for the workers in the evening as they feast on roast pig and kolache, pastries filled with jam.
2 packages yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups warm milk
6 cups all-purpose flour
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
2 cups jam or pie filling
1 egg white, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in milk. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
Combine flour, sugar, egg yolks, salt, butter and milk mixture in a large bowl and mix until the dough is stiff.
Knead dough until smooth, cover and let rise for an hour until the dough has doubled in size. Repeat.
Roll dough out to 1/2-inch thickness, then cut into circles with a glass. Let rise for 45 minutes.
Place a tablespoon of jam on each round. Brush with egg white and bake for 12 minutes until golden brown.
The New Yam Festival is celebrated by the Igbo people of Nigeria at the end of the rainy season, usually in early August. The yam is the first crop to be harvested and its symbolic significance as a source of life is celebrated with prayers of thanks, folk dances, parades and masquerades. The starch is prepared in many ways for the feast, but the most common is Yam Fufu, mashed yams.
2 pounds yams
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the yams in a large pot of water for 25 minutes, until soft.
Peel and cut up the yams into large pieces.
Add butter, salt and pepper, then mash with a potato masher until smooth. Shape the mixture into balls and serve.
Our Canadian neighbors to the north celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. Their celebration is very similar to the American version but it commemorates Sir Martin Frobisher’s arrival in Newfoundland in 1578. The food is very similar to that of an American Thanksgiving but often features more wild game and plenty of Canada’s famous maple syrup.
Maple Pecan Pie
1 pre-made pie crust
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Beat together all ingredients, then pour into pie crust.
Bake for 40 minutes and serve warm.
China’s Mid-Autumn Harvest Festival (also called Trung Thu in Vietnamese) is celebrated between early September and October on the day of the full moon. The festival is a time for reunion, harmony and historically, moon worship. Participants release paper lanterns and eat mooncakes, round pastries stamped with elaborate designs and traditionally filled with lotus bean paste. Our simplified recipe calls for the jam of your choice instead of this difficult-to-find ingredient.
4 cups flour
3/4 cup dried milk powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups jam
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix flour, milk powder, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
Beat together the eggs and sugar, then add butter and vanilla and stir until combined.
Stir in the dry ingredients until combined.
Knead the dough until smooth. Form into a log shape; refrigerate for an hour and then slice the dough into 15 to 20 circles.
Flatten the rounds into 3-inch disks, put a spoonful of jam into the center and pinch together the edges to form a ball.
Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
Featured image courtesy Pixabay user cegoh