China: Mid-Autumn Moon Festival
When it's celebrated: The 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar
While not the most riveting of holiday traditions, staring at the moon is one of the main activities of this two-day Chinese festival. It typically falls in September or October, when the moon is believed to be at its biggest, brightest, and fullest.
Dating back over 3,500 years, this is China’s second-largest festival and is celebrated with mooncakes: big, round, flaky pastries filled with everything from fruit to nuts to eggs and made to look like giant moons. Children also make lanterns for the holiday, though not nearly with the fervor they do for the annual Lantern Festival.
Brazil: Dia de Ação de Graças
When it's celebrated: The last Thursday in November
Legend has it that when the Brazilian ambassador to the US returned from a November trip in the 1940s, he told then-President Gaspar Dutra about this amazing holiday where Americans ate a ton of food. And then he was like, “We should do this! But let's add a giant street party! Because we’re Brazil.” (Naturally, we're paraphrasing.)
So that’s exactly what they did, and now Brazil celebrates Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November. Only difference: no Cowboys game! Also, it begins with a church service to give thanks for the fall harvest and ends with a sort of autumn Carnival. Other than that, the meal is almost identical. Well, except they replace cranberry sauce with jabuticaba sauce, and they call turkey “Peru.”