In the early 1880s, the Liberian government passed an act declaring the first Thursday of November as National Thanksgiving Day.
Historian and professor Elwood Dunn, the 2012 National Orator for Liberia, joins Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti to explain the political and religious origins of Thanksgiving in Liberia.
- Elwood Dunn, historian, politician and the 2012 National Orator for Liberia. He’s also a professor at Sewanee: The University of the South.
MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:
Meanwhile, the West African nation of Liberia holds a different kind of Thanksgiving Day celebration. Liberia was founded in the 19th century by freed American slaves. It's the only other country that officially celebrates Thanksgiving, and they do it on the first Thursday of November. Elwood Dunn is a former national orator for Liberia and a retired political science professor. We reached him in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, and he told us how Liberians mark the day.
ELWOOD DUNN: They use the day as an occasion for going to their places of worship, Christian churches primarily, where the fresh fruits of the harvest, those things are brought to the church and auctioned following the service. And then following that, people go their homes and, I think, do a little bit of what you do in America, feast and so forth and so on, but not - clearly not on the scale that you do it in the United States.
CHAKRABARTI: Liberians also gather for special concerts and dancing. And after a long and brutal civil war, the country has entered a period of relative stability. So Dunn says his fellow Liberians count their blessings.
DUNN: Oh, I think there must be a lot to give thanks for. It's been pointed out that we have enjoyed 10 years of peace. We have our ups and downs, hiccups, social problems. We are still trying to consolidate the peace. And I think when one reflects upon the past decade, there's much to say thank you to God for.
CHAKRABARTI: Through disaster, war and peace, three views of thanksgiving around the world. You're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.