Google results by country for "Thanksgiving" show that readers and media outlets outside the U.S. are mostly concerned with the holiday as a commercial event
Black Friday / AP
American schoolchildren may still learn that Thanksgiving is about grateful Pilgrims and helpful Wampanoags. The Williams-Sonoma catalog may declare that Thanksgiving is about cider-brining a 16-pound bird. But for the rest of the world -- for the billions in other countries not celebrating this week -- Thanksgiving seems primarily to be a business event.
Americans, of course, are aware of the holiday's economic side as well, as evidenced by the giant Black Friday lines that appear at stores every year. Still, other traditions tend to outweigh this one in our hearts and minds, and certainly on our nation's op-ed pages. Not so, abroad.
To explore the difference, pick a country and attach its code to your standard Google search (Google.de for Germany, Google.ru for Russia, Google.co.jp for Japan, etc.). Now run a search for "Thanksgiving" through that country's Google News -- you'll want to transliterate if you're dealing with a language that doesn't use the Latin alphabet. Though it is possible to find some coverage of the holiday as a feast, you'll see quite quickly that features like discount Apple products or video games are the big global story. To give you a sense of it, here are some of the results laid side by side, run through Google Translate so as to be intelligible to the average reader. It's a fun exercise.