Do You Know the Real History of Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a holiday we celebrate to express gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation to God, family and friends. Traditionally, it has been a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Thanksgiving Day is a harvest festival celebrated primarily in the United States and in Canada.

We generally think of Thanksgiving as an American holiday, due to the Pilgrims at the site of Plymouth Plantation, in Massachusetts. This celebration occurred early in the history of what would become one of the original thirteen colonies that later were to become the United States.

Thanksgiving was modeled after harvest festivals that were commonplace in Europe at the time. The corn crop was gathered by the Pilgrims in the fall of 1621. Governor Bradford invited the Indian Chief Massasoit and ninety of his braves to celebrate their first harvest in the New World and ordered a day of feasting and thanksgiving.

But actually a thanksgiving for the annual harvest is one of the oldest holidays known to mankind, honoring the agricultural gods which goes back thousands of years, in one form or another, though celebrated on different dates.

The Romans honored Ceres, the Hindus and the Chinese observe the gathered harvest with a holiday. In ancient Egypt and in Greece, the harvest festival was celebrated with great rejoicing. The Anglo-Saxons rejoiced with a feast to celebrate the reaping of the harvest; the Old Testament includes references to harvest festivals where Moses gave instruction to the Hebrews to give thanks for the harvest with an 8 day Feast of Tabernacles.

It is hard for us to realize that the beginnings of Thanksgiving go back not only to the Old World but to the early world.

Long before the dwellers by the Nile dreamed of building pyramids, all people who grew grain gave thanks at harvest time to the beings who had given them their daily food for the hard winter months. Moreover, these ancient farmers sensed the changing seasons and in the cycle of seed, to plant, to seed again, the miracle of death and resurrection and turned their wonder at it into legends.

In Canada Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October.

The USA used to celebrate thanksgiving on October 3rd, or just over a week after the Fall equinox but President Abraham Lincoln declared in 1863, after Thanksgiving had become a national holiday, that all in the United States should ‘set apart’ and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heaven.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all ~

Originally posted November 17, 2010 by our dear friend Annette Martin who departed this earth September 11, 2011. We miss you, Annette!