November 15, 2021
Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh – Erntedankfest & Thanksgiving
Written by Rachel Gyarmati
Autumn is a time to come in from the Biergarten and enjoy a hot meal inside. It’s also a time that we take stock of our year and give thanks.
Internationally, this time of year carries the same tone for most. Families and friends will gather over large meals and celebrate what we are most thankful for.
All celebrations are not the same. This month we will look at the celebrations of our beloved Germany and how it compares to an American Thanksgiving.
Read on to learn how to celebrate the German way and what foods we recommend for a great feast. As always, we are so very thankful for our community and the opportunity to serve them.
Thanksgiving in America
The first American Thanksgiving as we know it was celebrated in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621. The meal symbolized unity and a celebration of a hard-won harmony between colonists and the Wampanoag Native Americans.
It was also used to celebrate the harvest that fed them through the harsh first winter that the two parties survived, provided mainly by the Wampanoag.
In both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, Thanksgiving was used as a mark of relief, celebration, and unity.
Since that first Thanksgiving, the holiday morphed into one celebrated mainly in the home. However, there is still a focus on having a feast and coming together to celebrate what we are truly thankful for.
Thanksgiving in the United States also serves as a marking of the holiday shopping season. Large celebrations like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are used to both celebrate Thanksgiving festivities and bring in our year-end holidays.
After our meals and celebrations, most will go to their favorite stores and begin their holiday shopping.
Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving in America without turkey. Google tells us that Americans will consume 46 million turkeys this Thanksgiving alone! Gobble, gobble, indeed.
Side dishes are versatile and depend on who is hosting your feast. Traditionally they include veggies, canned cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes. The food is bought days before, and much preparation and thought are put into making each dish.
Erntedankfest: Thanksgiving in Germany
The celebration of Thanksgiving in Germany is called Erntedankfest. The literal translation is, “thanks for the harvest fest.” Rather than celebrating in someone’s home, Erntedankfest is publicly celebrated.
Celebrating as a community and outside of the home is so very German. We see examples of that in the creation of the Biergarten and Oktoberfest. All are opportunities to come together, eat, drink, and celebrate being a community.
The main focus of Erntedankfest is to commemorate the actual harvesting of crops. The festivities often take place in more rural areas because it is agriculturally based. Due to it being more of a rural occasion, most Germans will only experience Erntedankfest via their televisions.
The thanks for the harvest festival takes place between late September and early October, depending on the region.
Larger communities will often have festivities that their local Catholic or Protestant church hosts. In those instances, Erntedankfest will be kicked off with service and choral music.
There are also presentations of an Erntedankfest Queen as well as an Emtekrone, or harvest crown. The crown is a giant one made from wire and wheat and is placed on display.
For the kids, most communities will hold a parade in the evening as well as fireworks.
It has only been in the last few decades that eating turkey for Erntedankfest has been fashionable. Germans will instead opt for chickens and geese that are specifically raised for this event.
Sides are made from harvested crops, so there are plenty of veggies to go around. Homemade bread and bier (of course) are also on the menu.
With doors wide open, we invite you to celebrate your thankfulness here with us at Our Haus.
To get you in the Thanksgiving mood, we recommend the Hofbräuhaus Hot Brown. It’s served on a potato pancake, topped with turkey, black forest ham, bacon, Swiss cheese, and tomatoes. Of course, it is also topped with our decadent bier cheese and parmesan cheese.
If you would like something with a bit more Germanic flare or have children dining with you, we can accommodate that. Our goal is to have something for everyone to love.
As we say “Auf Wiedersehen” this month, we would like to share that we are most thankful for.
We are most thankful for our patrons and the communities that we call home. We are also very thankful for our hard-working staff who have helped us make it through a fun, but challenging, year.
Celebrating our German heritage through food, bier, and a great atmosphere means the world to us.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving/Erntedankfest!