|Forum Home > Thanks-Giving ~ Pagan or Anti-Pagan? > Is thanksgiving a pagan holiday?|
According to Joseph Gaer, author of the the book, Holidays Around the World . . .
"We often think of Thanksgiving as an American holiday, begun by the Pilgrims in Plymouth in 1621. At that time, so the story runs, the survivors of the Mayflower passengers celebrated their first harvest in the New World with a feast to which Governor Bradford invited the Indian Chief Massasoit and ninety of his braves . . .
That was the first Thanksgiving Day in the New World. But actually a thanksgiving for the annual harvest is one of the oldest holidays known to mankind, though celebrated on different dates. In Chaldea, in ancient Egypt and in Greece, the harvest festival was celebrated with great rejoicing. The Hindus and the Chinese observe the gathered harvest with a holiday."
" 'The Romans celebrated their Thanksgiving early in October. The holiday was dedicated to the goddess of harvest, Ceres, and the holiday was called Cerelia." . . .
"In England the 'Harvest Home' has been observed continuously for centuries. The custom was to select a harvest queen for this holiday. She was decorated with the grain of their fields and the fruit of their trees. On Thanksgiving Day she was paraded through the streets in a carriage drawn by white horses. This was a remnant of the Roman ceremonies in honor of Ceres...the Pilgrims brought the "Harvest in" to Massachusetts.' (Little, Brown & Company, Boston, 1953. Pps. 159- 160)." [The harvest queen represented the Queen of Heaven, mentioned in the Bible as idolatrous and Semiramis.]
Marian Schibsly and Hanny Cohrsen in their book, Foreign Festival Customs and Dishes, states:
"Long before the Christian era, harvest gods were worshiped with curious and varied rites. Customs now in use at harvest festivals have their counterparts in pagan countries; in many cases their origin and their significance is shrouded in mists of antiquity. The American Thanksgiving Day is usually ascribed to the Massachusetts colony of pilgrims, who, in gratitude for their first harvest on American soil, devoted the day of December 13, 1621 to praise and rejoicing. [Actually ran 3 days] . . .
The idea underlying such a celebration did, however, not originate with them. Thanksgiving day -- by that or some other name -- was known to virtually all the people who have come to America since 1492 and is known to those now coming...it becomes apparent that a day of thanksgiving is a custom in almost all the countries of Europe. It usually has to do with the harvests -- with the planting of crops or their gathering -- and therefore is observed in rural districts rather than in cities. (American Council For Nationalities Service, N.Y. 1974. P.46). " . . .
Based on information that I have been able t find, it appears that the premise for the Thanksgiving holiday was not new, but practiced long before the christian era by various pagan religions. Each person must decide for themselves how they will view it. . . .
While other cultures have had celebrations of time oriented around harvest activity, the Jewish calendar was ordained of God around certain feasts. Specifically, the Day of First Fruits was for the beginning of the barley harvest and the Feast of Pentecost was to dedicate and consecrate the first fruits of the wheat harvest . . .
The Pilgrims, who came to America, knew the Old Testament practices of God's people and the New Testament admonitions to express their gratitude to God. When they experienced hardship in settling here, they considered it their duty to praise and thank God for providing food and the wherewithal to survive, taking the key from the Scriptures to thank the Lord for His gracious watchcare over them.