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Whether You’re Celebrating Thanksgiving or Erntedank, There’s Always Turkey

Last month, we learned that America isn’t the only country celebrating Halloween — Germany and countries across Europe all hold similar fall festivals to get into the spirit.

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, we couldn’t help but wonder: Is Thanksgiving celebrated in Germany, too? 

It turns out, Germans do celebrate Thanksgiving, or what they know as Erntedank or Erntedankfest (meaning “harvest thanksgiving festival”). But while the German Halloween is celebrated in Germany with bonfires, baked goose, costumes, songs and a procession of lanterns, Thanksgiving is recognized as a much more religious holiday—often sponsored by Protestant and Catholic churches throughout the country. 

Erntedankfest Traditions

Erntedank often falls in late September or early October, making it much closer to Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday than the United States’ observance in November. Erntedank’s is rooted in Pagan traditions when farmers across Europe held celebrations at harvest time to give thanks for their good fortune.

In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, Erntedankfest involves church services, a parade, and a country fair. Large straw baskets filled with grain, fruit, and potatoes are carried to Church, blessed, and distributed to the poor. Observances begin with a sermon and song, followed by a procession and the presenting of the “harvest crown,” a skillfully woven crown made from grain and ribbons, for the harvest queen. The day ends with more music, dancing, food and even fireworks.

Erntedank Food

Traditionally, the food cooked during Erntedank is home-grown and natural — an occasion for Germans to reconnect with their roots and celebrate traditions with their family. Over the past few decades, however, turkey or “Truthahn” has become a popular dish in Germany. Some families stick to traditional German dishes like wiener schnitzel, while others serve turkey substitutes like Masthühnchen (chicken), or Kapaun (rooster). 

The dessert menu usually includes a Thanksgiving pastry known as Mohnstriezel, a sweet bread covered with poppy seeds. Of course, like any Thanksgiving table, there are a variety of desserts, including gingerbread and lebkuchen. Lebkuchen is typically packaged in highly decorative tins, making it the perfect holiday gifts for friends and family. 

Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or Erntedank, you can share a beautifully designed lebkuchen tin with your family AND bring something sweet to the dinner table. Leckerlee is ready to help with your holiday shopping — browse our online store today.