Pumpkin Pie…Turkey…Dressing…Mashed Potatoes…Ham…Green Bean Casserole…These are just some of the things that have been dancing around in my head as I begin to think of Thanksgiving. No matter what your friends and family eat for Thanksgiving, it is sure to be a great time of gathering friends and family together.
The first thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, between the Pilgrims and Native Americans of what is now New England, to show solidarity, and thankfulness for each other. While not all countries and cultures have a Thanksgiving (Papua New Guinea does not!) there are some traditions here that remind us of it. This past Saturday here in Arop village, the local people held a “basket exchange” where people from Aitape (a town about an 1.5 hour truck ride away) came and exchanged food with those living in the Arop villages.
They do this once a year, switching the location each year. This year we had the privilege of seeing the basket exchange hosted here in Arop, and next year, the people in Arop will go to Aitape (click here for google map). The people from town bring “town food” aka, rice, sugar, beans and things one is unable to find in the village. Those from the Arop villages bring produce from their gardens.
They organised a list of everyones names and paired people up to exchange food. One person from town with another person from the village. They called out two names, and two people would meet in the middle, hugging, dancing and laughing. Then, they exchanged the food they brought with the other and both donated money for a good cause.
Papua New Guineans place much importance on relationships, and helping each other. This tradition allows people from the town, and village to come together, celebrating their friendships, showing solidarity and thankfulness for each other by sharing food much like those involved in the first Thanksgiving!