Thanksgiving in the United States is an iconic holiday marked by an impressive banquet of traditional foods: roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce. Families gather, games are played, and football is cheered over. Black Friday shopping lists are deliberated over, and those special holiday movies are enjoyed once again. While the traditional Thanksgiving celebration may vary from one household to the next, the basics are the same – people gather with family or friends to eat good food and enjoy a couple of days of rest and relaxation.
The roots of this holiday trace back to the feast shared between Native Americans and the English as they celebrated the colonists’ first successful harvest in the New World. Starvation was a very real threat for those first settlers, so having enough food for the winter was a good reason to give thanks.
Indeed, the specter of hunger has plagued humanity since time immemorial, and communities around the world have developed traditions and ceremonies to give thanks for nature’s bounty. So while it’s easy to think that Thanksgiving is a unique holiday, harvest festivals are universally celebrated in nearly every country.
In this article, we’re going to explore a small sampling of the unique thanksgiving traditions celebrated by diverse communities from different corners of the globe. We will, of course, explore these traditions with a twist – linking each one to the personality type that we think would most appreciate the festivities.
While you’re reading through this list, please keep in mind that while some of these traditions are public events, others are more intimate and sacred celebrations. For these, we encourage respectful exploration through different cultural resources available online or in conversation with community members who uphold these traditions.
As a disclaimer, it’s worth noting that we cannot possibly do full justice to all of the complexities of these harvest holidays in our all-too-brief and simplified descriptions of them. This is because of the space constraints of this article as well as the admittedly limited perspective that comes from being an outsider to most of the cultures that observe these holidays. We nevertheless hope that everyone enjoys this glimpse into these beautiful celebrations that form part of our incredible and culturally diverse world. We invite you to follow your curiosity and learn more about these traditions.
Analyst Personality Types
Architect (INTJ): Kekri (Finland)
The ancient celebration of Kekri, which takes place on November 1, combines honoring the dead with seeking blessings for fruitful future harvests. Historically, it also marked the official closing of the farming season and the start of the new year. Young men would dress as the Kekri Buck (a mythical male goat also called Kekripukki) and wander about town asking for gifts, food, and drink in exchange for the promise of abundant future harvests. Plates of food were left out for ancestors who roamed the fields, and people feasted in celebration of the recent harvest.
Architects, who tend to appreciate the roots of traditions even more than the traditions themselves, will probably be fascinated by the links between this ancient holiday and the Halloween (and Christmas) traditions that descend from it. As Introverts, they’ll also appreciate the smaller family gatherings, but more than anything, they will enjoy the opportunity to disappear into the quiet realms of the traditional Finnish sauna.
Logician (INTP) – Thanksgiving (United States)
For Logicians, who are the least likely of all personality types to participate in religious traditions around the holidays and who generally prefer to avoid large gatherings, the US version of Thanksgiving is a natural fit. They’ll likely enjoy a toned-down version of the holiday meal with family or friends that live close by. But most of all, they’ll savor the four-day weekend that this holiday often affords.
As Analysts, Logicians might take a more intellectual and nontraditional (or even contrarian) approach to the holiday – possibly reminding others that, for many modern Native American communities, this holiday is observed as a time of mourning. If anyone is likely to have political views outside the mainstream, it’s Logicians. And they’re less shy than other personalities when it comes to talking about controversial topics at family gatherings, making them a natural fit for this holiday’s reputation for contentious table discourse.
Commander (ENTJ) – Olivagando (Italy)
The Olivagando festival in Magione, Italy, is known for fine handmade cheeses, fresh nuts, truffles, wine, cured meats, and, most important of all, olive oil. This celebration, which usually takes place in November, is all about the olive harvest and the production of the finest olive oil in the world. This event is sure to feel like paradise for Commanders – the most likely of all personality types to seek out local delicacies and splurge on foods of the finest quality.
In addition to the amazing selection of artisan foods, these Extraverted personalities can indulge in their love of history by enjoying dinner in a 12th-century castle or shopping for antiques. They can also take workshops, enjoy fine art competitions, or revel in any number of musical performances.
Debater (ENTP) – La Tomatina (Spain)
La Tomatina, which takes place on the last Wednesday of August in the small town of Buñol, is – to put it simply – a massive food fight. To be honest, it’s not exactly a harvest festival. But there is no other food-focused celebration more appropriate for Debaters than this one.
As the personality type most likely to enjoy intentionally annoying people and the most likely to have a good time watching other people argue, it seems only natural that Debaters would have a good time throwing tomatoes at strangers.
Though it’s hard to say for sure, this curious tradition seems to have started in 1945 when some youngsters knocked down a participant in a village parade and angry locals started lobbing nearby tomatoes at one another. They enjoyed it so much that it became a local tradition. These days, you have to buy a ticket to participate, but that entry fee gives you an opportunity to climb a greased pole to win a ham, sample different paella recipes, and enjoy lots of live music.
Diplomat Personality Types
Advocate (INFJ) – Chuseok (South Korea)
The Chuseok harvest holiday, which usually falls in mid-September, is observed throughout the Korean Peninsula. In South Korea, people celebrate Chuseok for three days, a time defined by the enjoyment of special food in the company of extended family. People travel to their hometowns to give thanks for an abundant harvest and participate in a special ceremony that honors their ancestors. Families visit the graves of their loved ones and present gifts to parents and grandparents.
Advocates will likely feel right at home during Chuseok. They tend to be spiritually open-minded and to enjoy family gatherings more than other Introverted personality types do. They may also appreciate the holiday’s traditional games and activities – of which there are many. Korean wrestling, a women’s circle dance under the full moon, and nonlethal bullfighting are all popular during the three days of festivities.
Mediator (INFP) – Nabanna (Bangladesh and West Bengal, India)
While they are not the most likely type to celebrate religious holidays, Mediators are, as Diplomats, one of the more spiritually open personalities. They are also likely to appreciate ancient cultural traditions such as those of Nabanna, the “new rice” festival of the rural Bengali people of Bangladesh and eastern India.
Celebrated around mid-November, this harvest festival is defined by the offering of a special porridge to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. Only after that offering of thanksgiving is made can the community enjoy the fresh rice of the new harvest. Sweet cakes are prepared, gifts may be given to children, and new rice grains are offered to crows as a way of giving thanks. In recent years, Nabanna celebrations have been organized in urban areas to create awareness (and foster gratitude) for rural farming communities.
Protagonist (ENFJ) – Pongal (India and Sri Lanka)
Pongal, a Tamil harvest celebration, takes place over four days in mid-January. One of the principal traditions is making a sweet rice dish with milk and raw cane sugar. The milk is allowed to boil over as a representation of the blessing of the gods. Thanks are given for abundant rains, and cattle are worshipped for their role in sustaining life. People traditionally focus on “spring cleaning” – getting rid of old possessions and purchasing new ones, including new clothes and other household goods. It’s also common for people to travel to visit family and friends, and much like with Thanksgiving in the United States, new movie releases are timed to coincide with the holiday.
Protagonists will love Pongal. Not only are they among the personality types most likely to participate in religious holiday traditions, but they absolutely love decorating for the season – which is a really important aspect of this holiday. Many homes boast colorful works of art at the entrances, pots overflowing with rice are prominently displayed, and colorful flowers and mango leaves are everywhere. Even cows are painted!
Campaigner (ENFP) – Kadayawan (the Philippines)
For Campaigners, who are most likely to enjoy sampling new and interesting foods, the most exciting harvest festival may be the Kadayawan celebration in the Philippines. Here Campaigners can enjoy an incredible variety of seafood and wander immense public markets, shopping for durian fruit and other local delicacies. They can appreciate the colorful parade of flower-laden floats, and because many of them love to dance, they’ll have a blast during the massive public dance party.
Taking place toward the end of August, Kadayawan is a thanksgiving event, but it’s really more of a celebration of culture. Originally organized to celebrate the distinct harvest rituals of the local native communities, it has become a major national event complete with a beauty pageant and folkloric presentations.
Sentinel Personality Types
Logistician (ISTJ) – Niiname-sai and Labor Thanksgiving Day (Japan)
For Logisticians, who tend not to view themselves as particularly spiritual but who do appreciate tradition, Niiname-sai is the perfect harvest holiday. The day is observed by the Emperor of Japan, who completes an elaborate ancient ritual that includes making an offering to the gods and giving thanks for an abundant rice harvest. But everyone else? Well, some people may make an offering at a local temple, but most don’t really do much of anything to mark this occasion.
While the Emperor still performs the rites of Niiname-sai, this holiday was actually canceled as a national religious festival after World War II. It was officially replaced with the more modern (and secular) Labor Thanksgiving Day, which serves to recognize and give thanks to the hard workers who keep Japanese society running smoothly. While this day generally lacks the festive atmosphere typical of harvest holidays, schoolchildren often make thank-you cards for public workers, and many businesses use the occasion to celebrate the accomplishments of their employees. Logisticians will find this an easy holiday to celebrate with no obligatory gatherings, special meals, or uncomfortable rituals.
Defender (ISFJ) – Mehregan (Iran)
Mehregan, celebrated in early October, is an Iranian harvest festival of Zoroastrian tradition. It’s the kickoff to the harvest season, and it’s also a celebration of love and gratitude for life. As the personality type that most values long-standing cultural traditions, Defenders will definitely appreciate this holiday, which some people estimate goes back at least 3,000 years.
Defenders will likely enjoy the Introvert-friendly nature of the festivities and might even embrace the subtly religious aspects of this intimate celebration. Families gather at home, pray, and then enjoy their meal. Everyone wears new clothes, and a table is carefully decorated for the occasion. Nearly everything about Mehregan is symbolic, from the way that the table is prepared to the traditional foods that are shared and the ritual application of kohl around the eyes.
Executive (ESTJ) – Umkhosi Wokweshwama (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
Firmly believing that leadership requires authority, Executives will probably admire the harvest celebration of Umkhosi Wokweshwama. This annual ritual, usually held in December, is essentially an offering to the Zulu king, who enjoys the first taste of the new harvest before bestowing a blessing upon the land. In the end, he throws down a squash, through which he gives permission to the Zulu people to enjoy the first fruits of the season.
Executives often have an affinity for the warrior archetype, which will hopefully inspire a respectful fascination for the ritual killing of a bull (with their bare hands) by the young warriors of the Zulu communities. The belief is that this act preserves the power of the king, giving him the bull’s strength and physical endurance for the next year. This part of the ceremony may be hard for some people to witness, but because they firmly appreciate long-standing traditions and recognize the need for community unity, Executives will likely feel honored to be allowed to witness this ceremony.
Consul (ESFJ) – Green Corn Festival (United States)
Many people think of Thanksgiving as the only current harvest festival in the United States. But many Native American communities still maintain their ancient harvest traditions, including local variations of the Green Corn Festival.
Different historical accounts of this important event describe how tribal members would gather on sacred grounds to fast, feast, dance, and participate in purification rituals. Many native communities had (and still have) Green Corn traditions unique to their distinct tribes. Modern versions of this ceremony still vary from community to community but share important similarities: new harvests are blessed, and tribal identity is reinforced and celebrated. Modern Green Corn Festivals are important events that honor and sustain Native American culture and promote community building. Some of these festivals are open to the public, while others are private ceremonies, strictly closed to outsiders.
Consuls are the most likely of all personality types to appreciate the religious and spiritual nature of harvest celebrations. They are also more likely than other Sentinels to enjoy participating in special traditions around the holidays, and they usually hold strong beliefs about the importance of family. This makes it likely that they’ll hold deep respect for cultural events such as this, even if they are not allowed to participate.
Explorer Personality Types
Virtuoso (ISTP) – Dożynki (Poland)
Virtuosos are Introverted types who generally prefer not to travel too far for their holiday celebrations. They’re typically not very religious, either. These are all reasons why they will probably enjoy the Slavic harvest tradition of dożynki.
Celebrated on different days and in different ways, depending on the region and community, the ritual usually revolves around the ceremonial harvesting of the last patch of wheat from the local fields. These sheaves of grain are then used to create an intricate wreath or sculpture that hands-on Virtuosos might enjoy helping to craft. The idea is that the bigger the sculpture, the better next year’s harvest will be. In centuries past, this tradition was more elaborate, spiritual, and ritualistic. Nowadays, this harvest festival serves to preserve historic traditions and honor hardworking farmers.
Adventurer (ISFP) – Homowo Festival (Ghana)
The Homowo festival, celebrated throughout August, is more like a planting and harvest season of ceremony than a simple act of post-harvest thanksgiving. After a period of prolonged famine, the Ga people of Ghana started this tradition as a celebration of fertility and hope and to literally “roar” or “hoot” in the face of hunger.
Adventurers are the Introverts most likely to enjoy holiday traditions of a religious nature, so they’ll likely enjoy the spiritual aspects of this seasonal ritual. They’ll probably also appreciate the interactive nature of the public processions with drumming, chanting, and traditional dances.
The Homowo season gets underway when the fields are planted. Then, to protect the growing crops, an absolute ban on drumming and other noise-making activities is sustained for at least 30 days. As the harvest approaches, festivities, healing rituals, and rites honoring the ancestors are observed. In the lead-up to Homowo Day (the climax of the festival), people often travel to visit family. Other rituals for this holiday include feasting, gift giving, staying inside at night to avoid roaming spirits, and dancing and singing in the streets during the day.
Entrepreneur (ESTP) – Oktoberfest (Germany)
Okay, it’s true – Oktoberfest is not technically a harvest holiday, but it’s held around harvest time, so why not include it on the list? Besides, it’s where you’ll probably find Entrepreneurs, who are the most likely personality type to enjoy a good beer, especially when that beer is combined with excellent food and a good party. And as Explorers, they’re likely to have a flexible definition for “harvest festival” anyway.
This festival, which has a history going back over 200 years, started as a celebration of a royal marriage. The event was such a success that it has been repeated year after year, eventually becoming the iconic two-week celebration of Bavarian culture that it is today.
Entertainer (ESFP) – Fiesta Nacional de la Vindemia (Argentina)
Entertainers are also likely to love a good party, which is precisely why they will enjoy the Fiesta Nacional de la Vindemia that takes place during the first week of March in Mendoza, Argentina. Unlike Oktoberfest, this fiesta is a harvest festival. Mendoza is the primary wine-producing region of Argentina, and this modern extravaganza has its roots in a traditional offering of harvested grapes to the Virgin of Carrodilla.
This event is now a raucous affair that attracts cowboys, grape pickers, and jet-setters alike. Entertainers will likely jump right into the heart of the action, sampling the free wine, dancing at the different concerts, taking in the parades, and maybe even whistling for their favorite beauty queen.
So what did you think of our exploration of harvest holidays around the world? Have you ever participated in any of the festivals that we mentioned? Do you know of any amazing celebrations that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments!
Oh, and happy holidays!