On Tuesday this week I attended a conference at the Harvard Club in Manhattan sponsored by the Chinese province of Guangdong. Most of the attendees were Chinese, some living in the United States but many from the mainland. Since this is Thanksgiving week here in the United States I was surprised at the number of Chinese people talking about this very American holiday. In my conversations with ex-pats living in China there appears to be a desire to have the traditional Thanksgiving feast among westerners who often invite local Chinese friends to join them to eat and enjoy, (sadly) without American football on television in the background.
I did a little research on Thanksgiving in China and found a few things that I did not expect. There are web pages http://bit.ly/Qt2TYX that outline the origins of American Thanksgiving as well as the actual traditions that are celebrated. The Chinese call it ‘gan en jie’, or thanks holiday, but to a Chinese person a true Chinese Thanksgiving is celebrated with the Moon festival. In China there’s little mention of American Thanksgiving and all it means is that the U.S. capital markets are closed on a Thursday.
The political and sometime economic rancor going on between the U.S. and China would not suggest there would be a great deal of thanks being exchanged at the governmental level between the two countries. But I’ve been impressed at how many Chinese people I know go out of their way to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t expect our holiday to even be on their radar!
Even in a challenging time for many people in the U.S., around the world, and even me on a professional level, we all have much for which to be thankful. A positive attitude and a continued willingness to grind it out is really the best way to move forward when things are not going as well as they might. It’s not easy but I am thankful to have been able to maintain that attitude and know it’s the path to future success.
To all of my friends, colleagues and partners, Happy Thanksgiving.