Archive for November 25th, 2008

Appreciation, Harvest, and the traditions among us

Posted on November 25, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Musings, Philosophy, Spirituality |

smileysunOf the uniquely “United States of America” holidays, Thanksgiving is my favorite. Part of the reason I like it is it is inclusive of all religions and beliefs, as well as secular sensibilities. Anyone can take a moment to experience a sense of appreciation for the amazing miracle known as “life”, as well as for the people and things which enhance each of ours.

We, in my country, celebrate our version of ancient Harvest Festivals on the fourth Thursday of November, so it’s coming right up! Last month, I wished my friends north of the border a good Thanksgiving; they and other friends throughout the world are now looking ahead to the winter holidays around Solstice. Our harvest holiday does seem to come a bit later in the year than most others.

The idea of a harvest festival, or holiday of some kind, is present in most cultures, often including expression of gratitude for the abundance of the harvest, and wishes or prayers for substance during the winter ahead. I’m sharing just a few examples from ancient and modern cultures, because I enjoy multiculturalism:

The Greeks The ancient Greeks worshipped many gods and goddesses. Their goddess of corn (actually all grains) was Demeter who was honored at the festival of Thesmosphoria held each autumn.

The Romans The Romans also celebrated a harvest festival called Cerelia, which honored Ceres their goddess of corn (from which the word cereal comes). The festival was held each year on October 4th and offerings of the first fruits of the harvest and pigs were offered to Ceres. Their celebration included music, parades, games and sports and a thanksgiving feast.

The Chinese The ancient Chinese celebrated their harvest festival, Chung Ch’ui, with the full moon that fell on the 15th day of the 8th month. This day was considered the birthday of the moon and special “moon cakes”, round and yellow like the moon, would be baked. Each cake was stamped with the picture of a rabbit – as it was a rabbit, not a man, which the Chinese saw on the face of the moon.

The Hebrews Jewish families celebrate a harvest festival called Sukkoth. Taking place each autumn, Sukkoth has been celebrated for over 3000 years.

The Egyptians The ancient Egyptians celebrated their harvest festival in honor of Min, their god of vegetation and fertility. The festival was held in the springtime, the Egyptian’s harvest season.

The United States In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

Canada Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Observance of the day began in 1879.   (With thanks to Holidays on the Net for research.)

I am most appreciative, grateful, and thankful for YOU, the reader of my blog. It’s been quite a year for many of us, and we have a way to go yet! 🙂 You, my world-wide neighbor, have enhanced my life, and it’s nice to remember that, as I go to celebrate a feast with friends. We’ll tell stories, and name things, and, especially, people we’re thankful for. Somewhere in there, I expect to utter the word “blog” or “bloggers”. Listen carefully and you may hear!

A very Happy Thanksgiving/Autumn/Harvest—any celebration that you hold dear!

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