Congratulations to Celia Conrad for Winning the February 2020 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The challenge was to write an essay that answered this question:

Which holiday would you change and why?

Celia shared a heartwarming idea about connecting cultures through gratitude. Enjoy her winning submission:

How About Celebrating a Global Gratitude Day?

If I asked you to think about Thanksgiving, what would come to mind? Probably the national holiday celebrated in the USA on the fourth Thursday of November. A time when families and friends come together and reflect on their blessings. A celebration centered on gratitude.

Thanksgiving as we know it today is very different from the Thanksgiving celebrated by the early settlers who arrived in what is now the United States in September 1620 on the Mayflower. They were strongly influenced by the English Puritans’ practice of setting aside days to thank God for the harvest and for helping them through times of extreme hardship. To them Thanksgiving was a religious and cultural festival.

When they celebrated their first Thanksgiving in November 1621, they had much to give thanks for. They had survived the perilous journey to the New World and a harsh winter. They had also managed to cultivate corn with the assistance of the native Wampanoag Indians and harvest it successfully.

We take a lot for granted nowadays, but to the settlers, those feats were a major cause for celebration. They were supremely grateful for their blessings.

Today Thanksgiving is celebrated throughout the United States by millions of people, irrespective of their beliefs or culture, which means it is open to anyone who wants to embrace and enjoy it.

Of course, Thanksgiving is not exclusive to the USA. Similar holidays exist throughout the world. In Canada, Thanksgiving takes place in October. In China the Chung Ch’ui Moon Festival celebrates the harvest moon, as does Vietnam’s Trung-Thu and South Korea’s Chuseok. On November 23, the Japanese mark Labor Thanksgiving Day, Niinamesai, a celebration of its workers. Malaysia celebrates the harvest in its Kaamatan festival. The Erntedankfest is a harvest festival celebrated in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. And in Israel, Sukkot is celebrated.

There is no specific day for Thanksgiving in the United Kingdom. A harvest festival is held on Lammas Day, a name derived from the Old English words for loaf and Mass. Historically, everyone would bring bread made from the wheat harvest to be blessed on Lammas Day.

All these worldwide festivals may be celebrated differently, but they have a common theme, and that is gratitude.

What if we could hold all these celebrations on the same day and make Thanksgiving a truly global event? A day when we all come together in gratitude for the wonders of our amazing and abundant world no matter where we are from or what our beliefs are? A global gratitude day! If we celebrated Global Gratitude Day on New Year’s Eve, we could give thanks for the outgoing year and reflect on our blessings before we move forward into the coming year with our New Year’s Day celebrations.