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Alaskan Thanksgiving: Seasonal Celebrations & Harvest Traditions

Alaska's Unique Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving Celebrations in Alaska

Thanksgiving celebrations in Alaska hold a special place in the hearts of Alaskans due to the state's unique culture, stunning natural surroundings, and a rich history of gratitude. Here's how Thanksgiving is celebrated in the Last Frontier:

Embracing the Wilderness: Thanksgiving in Alaska often involves a deeper connection with the state's breathtaking wilderness. Many Alaskans choose to spend the holiday outdoors, whether it's camping, hiking, or simply taking a nature walk to appreciate the stunning landscapes.

Traditional Feasts: Despite the remote locations, Alaskans embrace the classic Thanksgiving feast with enthusiasm. Turkey, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes are served alongside locally sourced ingredients, such as salmon, moose, and berries. These dishes add a unique Alaskan twist to the traditional meal.

Community Gatherings: Alaskans are known for their strong sense of community. Thanksgiving is a time when friends and neighbors come together to share meals and stories. Potluck-style gatherings are common, where everyone contributes a dish to the feast.

Native Traditions: Alaska is home to a diverse range of Indigenous cultures, each with its own customs and traditions. Many Indigenous communities incorporate their heritage into Thanksgiving celebrations, such as storytelling, traditional songs, and dances.

Gratitude for Natural Resources: Given Alaska's reliance on its natural resources, Thanksgiving often includes expressions of gratitude for the state's fisheries, forests, and wildlife. Some people also take this opportunity to discuss environmental conservation and the importance of preserving Alaska's natural beauty.

Seasonal Events: Thanksgiving in Alaska coincides with the beginning of the northern lights season. Alaskans are treated to spectacular displays of the aurora borealis, adding to the sense of wonder and thankfulness during the holiday.

Charitable Acts: Acts of kindness and giving back to the community are common during Thanksgiving in Alaska. Many Alaskans volunteer at food banks, shelters, or engage in charity events to support those in need.

Cultural Celebrations: In addition to traditional American Thanksgiving celebrations, Alaska's diverse population celebrates the holiday in various ways, incorporating the customs of their ancestral homelands.

Winter Sports: Thanksgiving marks the beginning of winter in Alaska, and many people use the holiday as an opportunity to engage in winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating.

Northern Hospitality: Alaska's reputation for warmth and hospitality shines through during Thanksgiving. Whether you're a local or a visitor, you're likely to experience the generosity and warmth of Alaskans during this holiday.

Thanksgiving in Alaska is a harmonious blend of American traditions, Indigenous heritage, and the rugged beauty of the state. It's a time when Alaskans come together to appreciate the natural wonders and the community that make their home so special.


Across the nation in September and October, you’ll find communities coming together to celebrate the changing of the seasons and the successful harvest of another crop. Although a good number of fall festivals happen prior to October, there are more than enough left so that you should be able to find a popular harvest festival near you. Here in Alaska each fall, people held a series of festivals and spiritual ceremonies after the end of salmon fishing and the berry harvest. These festivals lasted throughout the winter months. People were addressing the spirits who could help or harm them by dance and songs. They also appealed to the souls of animals upon whom everyone’s life depended.

During dances, people used to wear masks and beautiful decorated ceremonial dress. Most interestingly, Men and Women take part in the dance followed by the beats of skin drums, bird beak rattles and piercing whistles which were usually used to call on the spirits to the dance house.

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