The Aesthetics of Thanksgiving


What does Thanksgiving feel like?

If you are American, it probably tastes of turkey and cranberry sauce, smells of a relative´s perfume, looks like 50 shades of orange and sounds of a mix of family excitement and mediation.

But for most of the other 17 countries that designate a holiday to show gratitude, their day is a different sensorial experience. Their narrative is different to the Plymouth pilgrims and this plays out in the aesthetics that mark their holiday.



Chuseok is a three-day full harvest moon holiday where Koreans travel to their ancestral homes to thank them for their plentiful harvest. The days start with Charye (ancestor worshiping), follow with Beolcho (maintenance of the graves by plucking the weeds around) and end with a feast of fall food like permission, chestnuts and rice cakes called Songpyeon.

We asked Su Hyun Shin, a Korean graphic designer who organizes surf expeditions and is part of our Tastemakers Community, to describe it for us: “It looks like the country-side and the moon. It smells of fried Jeon (a fish fritter). And as the women have to cook everything, it feels… exhausting! A bit like in the recently-released movie Big Mama´s Crazy Ride




This celebration is a descendent from the original Chinese customs of moon-sacrificial ceremonies, where a series of prayers, poems, and offerings were burned for the moon. Nowadays, people appreciate the moon by gathering around a table and eating mooncakes while reflecting on the importance of togetherness.

“We watch the moon and we eat mooncakes (rounded pastries that represent togetherness and unison) in a ceremonial-like manner. In years when we go full-tradition, we dance and play with festival lanterns. It´s a happy event characterized by lights and excitement” explains Tastemaker Ruan Li, who works in business development for a pharmaceutical company.



This week-long Jewish holiday celebrates the gathering of the harvests and commemorates the 40 years the children of Israel wandered in the desert after being freed from slavery in Egypt. A temporary foliage-covered booth (called Sukkah) is built by families to evoke the nomadic and impermanence feeling of those ancient days. These architectural forms follow strict guidelines: the roofs can only be partially covered, often with bamboo or leaves for shade. From inside, you’re meant to have a clear view of the sky.

“It feels adventurous, as we sleep over in the Sukkah. There is also a strong sense of appreciation for what has been, as summer ends and as we bless the Sukkah with the four species. It smells of the citrusy scent of etrog” describes Tastemaker Filipe Ayash, as his recalls his Sukkot celebrations in Portugal.





South Indian´s harvest festival is a four-day celebration that marks the end of winter solstice by expressing gratitude to nature. Families honor the Sun God Surya while tossing their old clothes into a fire, giving each other oil massages and sporting new clothes to celebrate. Special dishes like sakkarai pongal (a sweet rice dish prepared by boiling milk in a clay pot decorated with flowers) are prepared, offered to the animals and Gods, and then eaten by the participants. The way locals clean their homes, burn old belongings and paint with symbolic colors creates an aesthetics that transmits new beginnings.



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