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Azhdaya Ravenwolf
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Many holiday customs and legends are based on those of the Pagans. Christmas: trees, Yule logs, holly, ivy, presents…. Easter: eggs, rabbits, flowers…. Hallowe’en: trick or treat, Jack-o-lanterns, witches, ghosts…. And each celebration has its own traditional food . . .

Pagan Influence on Thanksgiving Menu

Some might think it’s stretching the imagination to also tie in Thanksgiving with Pagan customs, but both Christian and Pagan religions give thanks, respectively, to God and their deities for the harvest. The Pilgrim’s holiday is at the end of the gathering season . . .

Christians celebrated Lammas, the first harvest, by going to church in August, leaving loaves of bread on altars and giving thanks. Michaelmas, honoring the archangel St. Michael, was held on September 29th. Festivals of gratitude were held near or on the Sunday of the Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the date of the autumnal equinox, usually occurring in September, sometimes in early October . . .

Native Americans had celebrations of reaping bountiful crops. As Pagan Europeans immigrated, they brought their customs of harvest festivals: Lughnasadh, Mabon and Samhain. Both Pagan traditions, featuring special foods, later influenced celebrations of the American Thanksgiving . . .

Meats of Thanksgiving

•Venison: Deer symbolizes innocence and gentleness. The doe represents subtlety and gracefulness; the stag, purification, independence and pride.

•Turkey: Called Ground Eagle by some tribes, is symbolic of harvest and shared blessings of Mother Earth.

•Rabbit: Although not mentioned in accounts of the feast, was one of the foods available to the Pilgrims in 1621. Rabbit’s and hare’s keynotes are new life, fertility, intuition, balance and rebirth.

Thanksgiving's Vegetables, Fruit and Grains

•Apples: The Celts attributed the powers of rebirth, youth and healing to this fruit.

•Beans: The Three Sisters in Native American legend were Maize or Indian corn, beans and squash. After corn, oldest sister, was planted, beans were next so their vines could grow around cornstalks, then squash, the youngest, which grew close to the earth. The way they grew is symbolic of cooperative community survival and mainstays in the tribes’ diets.

•Maize and Cornmeal: Ceremonies were held for both planting and harvesting corn. The New England tribes’ spring Green Corn ceremony was to ask for bountiful harvest. In August, also the month of the Celtic Lughnasadh, the Green Corn celebrated the first harvest. Cornmeal symbolizes fertility, healing and powers of people, animals, rituals and objects.

•Pumpkin: Represents sun and, according to some Native American tribes, symbolic of personal power.

•Wheat: Wheat celebrated abundance and was used in rituals to give thanks and pray bounty would last until the next year.

Thanksgiving Cornucopia's Symbolism

The horn of plenty was a Native American basket shaped in the form of an upside-down tornado, filled with vegetables. It signified harvest’s abundance when shared and thanks given to the deities. Indians brought these to the Pilgrims to alleviate their fear of scarcity . . .

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November 8, 2009 at 5:03 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Azhdaya Ravenwolf
Site Owner
Posts: 354




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~ Azhdaya Ravenwolf 


November 20, 2015 at 10:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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