Feasting Around the World


Graphic designed and provided by Jadyn Forbes.

Abby Clark and Jadyn Forbes

Feasts are a huge part of cultures around the world. They are incorporated during celebrations on most occasions. Oftentimes, these celebrations are deeply rooted in historical traditions that date back many centuries ago.  


Israel – Passover (Seder) 

Passover is a Jewish holiday that is celebrated in Jerusalem. This feasting holiday is to commemorate freedom from slavery, in Egypt, during biblical times. Over the years, Passover has become a common Jewish tradition. It takes place on April 15, 2023 and continues for eight days, until April 23, 2023. The main meal is called a seder, eaten on the evening of the 15th. These dates are subject to change based on the Gregorian calendar.  

HistoryChannel.com mentioned that some rituals for this holiday are removing all leavened food from the house and abstaining it over Passover. There are also tasks and games for the youngest child and family members at the feast. The youngest child is asked to recite four questions that distinguish this special night from any other night. The game that they play is called Afikomen. During this game, they hide a piece of matzo at the beginning of the evening and the younger people go look for it. The finder of the matzo will earn a prize in return.  

The feast for the seder includes foods such as matzo (which is a flatbread), bitter herbs, lamb shank bone, a mixture of fruit, and nuts, along with Charoset, which is a popular wine choice for the seder. A couple of typical dishes for seder happen to be matzo kugel, a pudding made with matzo and apple, as well as gefilte fish, paired with chicken soup with matzo balls.  


United States – Thanksgiving  

Thanksgiving is an American holiday celebrated annually on the final Thursday in November. According to HistoryChannel.com, The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 by the Plymouth migrants and their new Native American allies. The feast was in celebration of the pilgrims’ first successful harvest of corn in their new settlement. It was during the civil war when President Lincoln officially made Thanksgiving a national holiday. 

Thanksgiving has several traditions such as the Macy’s parade in New York City, football games, volunteering, and even the president pardoning two turkeys who will be honored and saved from any further risk of being eaten. This year’s turkeys were pardoned on Monday and were officially named Chocolate and Chip. The most important tradition and the ultimate staple of thanksgiving, are aspects of cooking or sharing bountiful meals with loved ones.  

Some of the most popular foods that are made in the United States as the main dish are turkey or ham. With stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and mac & cheese as the usual sides. Let us not forget about the most common dessert, pumpkin pie. 


Scotland – Burns-Night Supper  

Burns-Night Supper is celebrated on January 25, which is Robert Burns’ birthday. According to Happyholiday.com Robert Burns was a national poet in Scotland. Five years after his death, nine of his closest friends gathered to remember him and his life. They read his famous works followed by a feast. After dinner, they continued to read his works. 

The evening starts by welcoming the guests, followed by a gathering to say Selkirk’s grace, a Scottish prayer commonly said at burns’ supper. After grace, they bring out the main dish referred to as haggis, to which they recite a poem written by Burns called Address to the Haggis. Once the recitement has been completed then the meal begins. After the meal, the guests finish off the night by drinking and dancing.  

 The gathering starts off with the main dish being served. This is often haggis but could be substituted for Scottish beef or highland casserole which contains venison or other game. The main course is followed by neeps which are chopped boiled swede, tattie also known as mashed potatoes, cock-a-leekie soup which is made from chicken and leeks. For dessert, the cranachan is served alongside raspberries and cream, a cheeseboard, with a final addition of Scottish oat cakes. 

These are just a few of many holidays that are celebrated on a national level by the incorporation of feasts. Every holiday is filled with traditions, but even with them, it looks different depending on each family and culture. Just like many of our holidays in the U.S., they are all honored with a big meal surrounded by loved ones to remember and memorialize the past.