By: Crystal Zhao and Addie Klimek
Thanksgiving, one of the most well known American holidays, is just this week. To us, it is a time for family, food, and football. People around the globe have different perspectives on it, though. This week, we decided to interview people from other countries on their ideas of what American holidays are like.
For most of us, Columbus day just means an extra morning to sleep in. But all in all, it seems that some people outside of the US have decidedly stronger opinions on it than we do!
“At least you get a long weekend.” – Yael Tiv, Israel
“What is that? Oh, we had a long weekend.” – Ying Ying Yang, Chinese international student
“I’m pretty sure I slept most of the day.” – Isabel, Australian exchange student
We all know the story behind it, as we were taught in elementary school: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” He discovered America, landed on the shore, and shortly after, the Pilgrims sailed over on the famed Mayflower. They made peace with the Native Americans, and all had a lovely dinner together. Right?
*angry British voice* “Columbus did not discover any land. Leif Ericson found the ‘new world’ way before he did. Yet you give him a national holiday in his honor. America.” – Sydney, London, UK
“How did he discover it if there were already people there?” – Yael
And some of us are in between.
“It’s really good, I like the day off, but regarding the contents of it I don’t think the whole country has history knowledge. I don’t think they talk about Columbus enough, Columbus Day should be about history.” – Ms. Hu, HB Chinese teacher.
Dressing up, going to parties, and eating free candy? Who doesn’t love Halloween? When it comes to Americans, Halloween is widely thought of as one of our favorite holidays, shown by the excessive decorations, elaborate costumes, and plentiful treats we all love handing out (but mostly receiving). However, lets look at how other countries view our fixation on this festive day.
“It’s rained for two years in a row. It’s not fun…Halloween was one of my vocabulary words back when I was learning English in China. It was kind of like a culture lesson.” – Ying Ying
“We have this too in London, but you guys get so into it. Even the adults dress up there, and you guys have all these weird parties. I stopped celebrating it when I was ten…” – Sydney
“We have it in Australia, too. It’s not as big a deal, though. We don’t decorate our houses or anything.” – Isabel
“I’ve seen movies of this and you sent me snapchats of you during this. This looks so much fun and I wish we had it here! I love dressing up and eating candy and you get to go to haunted houses with your friends and parties. If we had Halloween here I would dress up like a cat.” – Yael
Thanksgiving is a time for families to get together and be thankful for each other and our lives. It seems like an all-around great holiday. Let’s look at international perspectives of our beloved Turkey Day.
“It’s fun to sew up the turkey. It’s fun…I guess. *whispering* I don’t remember much.” – Ying Ying
“I really don’t know much about it but I think it’s a nice. It’s a chance for whole families to get together.” – Isabel
“This is the one American holiday that actually seems fun and normal with family and giving thanks. Except then the next day you all trample each other for Christmas shopping. What happened to being grateful for what you have?” – Sydney
April Fools Day:
In the spirit of a new spring, we Americans get a little mischievous. We prank our families, friends, teachers, and practically anyone who will fall for it. We were surprised to learn that it was not only an American holiday. Even more surprising was that other countries were better at it. America, we need to step up our game.
“Um, no one fooled me here. But in China, all of us students fooled each other. It’s pretty popular. We have toys we use to scare people. It’s much more fun in China.” – Ying Ying
“[In Australia] We might just say a white lie, then ‘April Fools!’ Haha not funny…” – Isabel
“I wish we had more of your holidays here!” – Yael
“Americans are so weird.” – Sydney
“Foolish day? I don’t like it at all. I don’t like foolish people.” – Ms. Hu
4th of July:
The 4th of July is an abrasively American holiday. We don red, white, and blue clothing and smear our faces with garish paint, all in the name of independence. We were interested in seeing how foreigners viewed our crazy antics. Unsurprisingly, the most recognized custom from this holiday was fireworks.
“Is this the one where you guys have fireworks? It seems cool I guess. What are you celebrating?” -Yael
And there were those who knew all too well what this holiday was about, and were still holding a bit of a grudge over it.
“Biggest mistake America ever made.” – Sydney
Foreigners have unique perspectives on American holidays. We’ve had some intense opinions, some positive ones, and some extreme apathy. But throughout this whole interview process, our foreign friends have showed respect for our culture. This holiday season, as we frolic and enjoy our gingerbread and eggnog, lets try to remember to wish people of other cultures and days of celebration happiness, too. We wish you a merry Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Boxing Day, and a Happy New Year!