Friday, 23 November 2012

Pagan Truth: Thanksgiving Roots

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It is taught in American schools that the Pilgrims established Thanksgiving (to share their abundant harvest with local Wampanoag "People of the Dawn" Tribe).
« Most history books would like to convince us that Thanksgiving Day goes back to only Plymouth Rock in the 1600's. Plymouth Rock was not the first Thanksgiving Day though. (Ever wonder why Canada has a Thanksgiving Day also?) This pagan feast, honoring the agricultural gods, goes back thousands of years, in one form or another. »

The colonists arrived in December and endured hard times - barely surviving. Samoset of the Wampanoag (who were hunters gatherers, farmers and fishermen), decided to help the colonists, even though the Indians were fields were plundered by the immigrants. Because his command of the English language was limited, he brought Squanto (who knew English well) to teach the Pilgrims survival skills. He taught the immigrants how to grow beans, corn, squash and other crops, using fish as a fertilizer. Squanto showed them which plants were poisonous and those used for healing. Samoset even taught the people how to obtain sap from maple trees, dig for clams and other skills.

English: Squanto or Tisquantum teaching the Pl...
Squanto or Tisquantum teaching the Plymouth colonists to plant corn with fish.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In 1621, the Pilgrims celebrated the first New World harvest (Thanksgiving was not the first feast celebrating harvest, Pagans had festivals giving thanks for bounty before the Pilgrims; the tribe had its own feast day!). Leader Captain Miles Standish invited Chief Massasoit and 90 braves (including Samoset and Squanto) to join them. Governor Bradford of Plymouth Colony ordered the day for feasting and thanks. He decreed a day of Thanksgiving.
« Future Pagan immigrants brought their harvest festivals to America. Thanksgiving became a day to give thanks for the harvest and for other blessing of the past year ... it is probably an outgrowth of the Harvest-Home celebrations in England. »
In 1861 Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. By this time, other Europeans had settled in America and brought their own traditions (some Pagan). The New Englanders’ Pagan ancestors celebrated Harvest Home, the first reaping of crops, in August; this was a silent time for gratitude and reflection, followed by singing and dancing after which a joyous feast was held.

The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Louis...
The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Harvest festivals were celebrated by most Europeans: Romans celebrated Cerelia by giving thanks to Ceres, Goddess of Harvest. Celtic and Anglo/Saxon Pagans celebrated Lughnasadh and Mabon, the first and second harvests. The Greeks gave honour to Demeter during the Thesmophoria.
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