Realms Wishes all Members, Staff and Friends
A Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving and Gratitude
witches' form of thanksgiving involves the making
of libations. Before you enjoy any type of food
or drink, simply pour or section off a portion
and set it aside for the gods. You will need a
bowl or platter in the middle of the table to
do this. It is customary to empty the bowl outside
under a tree once the meal is completed . This
way the food returns to Mother Earth. To give
thanks to a particular deity, simply choose a
food sacred to that god and place it outdoors.
For example, if you have been blessed with love,
choose a food sacred to Venus (perhaps an apple)
and leave it as an offering to her.
Thanksgiving, take the time to truly give thanks
to your God and Mother Earth for all you have
been blessed with!
history mankind has celebrated the bountiful harvest
with thanksgiving ceremonies. Before the establishment
of formal religions many ancient farmers believed
that their crops contained spirits which caused
the crops to grow and die. Many believed that
these spirits would be released when the crops
were harvested and they had to be destroyed or
they would take revenge on the farmers who harvested
them. Some of the harvest festivals celebrated
the defeat of these spirits.
The Pilgrims, who celebrated the first thanksgiving
in America, were fleeing religious prosecution
in their native England. In 1609 a group of Pilgrims
left England for the religious freedom in Holland
where they lived and prospered. After a few years
their children were speaking Dutch and had become
attached to the dutch way of life. This worried
the Pilgrims. They considered the Dutch frivolous
and their ideas a threat to their children's education
they decided to leave Holland and travel to the
New World. Their trip was financed by a group
of English investors, the Merchant Adventurers.
It was agreed that the Pilgrims would be given
passage and supplies in exchange for their working
for their backers for 7 years.
Sept. 6, 1620 the Pilgrims set sail for the New
World on a ship called the Mayflower. They sailed
from Plymouth, England and aboard were 44 Pilgrims,
who called themselves the "Saints", and 66 others
,whom the Pilgrims called the "Strangers."
long trip was cold and damp and took 65 days.
Since there was the danger of fire on the wooden
ship, the food had to be eaten cold. Many passengers
became sick and one person died by the time land
was sighted on November 10th.
long trip led to many disagreements between the
"Saints" and the "Strangers". After land was sighted
a meeting was held and an agreement was worked
out, called the Mayflower Compact, which guaranteed
equality and unified the two groups. They joined
together and named themselves the "Pilgrims."
they had first sighted land off Cape Cod they
did not settle until they arrived at Plymouth,
which had been named by Captain John Smith in
1614. It was there that the Pilgrims decide to
settle. Plymouth offered an excellent harbor.
A large brook offered a resource for fish. The
Pilgrims biggest concern was attack by the local
Native American Indians. But the Patuxets were
a peaceful group and did not prove to be a threat.
The first winter was devastating to the Pilgrims.
The cold, snow and sleet was exceptionally heavy,
interfering with the workers as they tried to
construct their settlement. March brought warmer
weather and the health of the Pilgrims improved,
but many had died during the long winter. Of the
110 Pilgrims and crew who left England, less that
50 survived the first winter.
March 16, 1621 , what was to become an important
event took place, an Indian brave walked into
the Plymouth settlement. The Pilgrims were frightened
until the Indian called out "Welcome" (in English!).
His name was Samoset and he was an Abnaki Indian.
He had learned English from the captains of fishing
boats that had sailed off the coast. After staying
the night Samoset left the next day. He soon returned
with another Indian named Squanto who spoke better
English than Samoset.
told the Pilgrims of his voyages across the ocean
and his visits to England and Spain. It was in
England where he had learned English. Squanto's
importance to the Pilgrims was enormous and it
can be said that they would not have survived
without his help. It was Squanto who taught the
Pilgrims how to tap the maple trees for sap. He
taught them which plants were poisonous and which
had medicinal powers. He taught them how to plant
the Indian corn by heaping the earth into low
mounds with several seeds and fish in each mound.
The decaying fish fertilized the corn. He also
taught them to plant other crops with the corn.
harvest in October was very successful and the
Pilgrims found themselves with enough food to
put away for the winter. There was corn, fruits
and vegetables, fish to be packed in salt, and
meat to be cured over smoky fires.
Pilgrims had much to celebrate, they had built
homes in the wilderness, they had raised enough
crops to keep them alive during the long coming
winter, they were at peace with their Indian neighbors.
They had beaten the odds and it was time to celebrate.
Pilgrim Governor William Bradford proclaimed a
day of thanksgiving to be shared by all the colonists
and the neighboring Native Americans. They invited
Squanto and the other Indians to join them in
their celebration. Their chief, Massasoit, and
90 braves came to the celebration which lasted
for 3 days. They played games, ran races, marched
and played drums. The Indians demonstrated their
skills with the bow and arrow and the Pilgrims
demonstrated their musket skills. Exactly when
the festival took place is uncertain, but it is
believed the celebration took place in mid-October.
following year the Pilgrims harvest was not as
bountiful, as they were still unused to growing
the corn. During the year they had also shared
their stored food with newcomers and the Pilgrims
ran short of food.
3rd year brought a spring and summer that was
hot and dry with the crops dying in the fields.
Governor Bradford ordered a day of fasting and
prayer, and it was soon thereafter that the rain
came. To celebrate - November 29th of that year
was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. This date
is believed to be the real true beginning of the
present day Thanksgiving Day.
custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving,
held after the harvest, continued through the
years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's)
a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by
the Continental Congress. In 1817 New York State
had adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom.
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.
Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second
Monday in October. Observance of the day began
festivals and thanksgiving celebrations were held
by the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Hebrews,
the Chinese, and the Egyptians.
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. On the first day of the festival
married women (possibility connecting childbearing
and the raising of crops) would build leafy shelters
and furnish them with couches made with plants.
On the second day they fasted. On the third day
a feast was held and offerings to the goddess
Demeter were made - gifts of seed corn, cakes,
fruit, and pigs. It was hoped that Demeter's gratitude
would grant them a good harvest.
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 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 families ate
a thanksgiving meal and feasted on roasted pig,
harvested fruits and the "moon cakes". It was
believed that during the 3 day festival flowers
would fall from the moon and those who saw them
would be rewarded with good fortune. According
to legend Chung Ch'ui also gave thanks for another
special occasion. China had been conquered by
enemy armies who took control of the Chinese homes
and food. The Chinese found themselves homeless
and with no food. Many staved. In order to free
themselves they decided to attack the invaders.
The women baked special moon cakes which were
distributed to every family. In each cake was
a secret message which contained the time for
the attack. When the time came the invaders were
surprised and easily defeated. Every year moon
cakes are eaten in memory of this victory.
families also celebrate a harvest festival called
Sukkoth. Taking place each autumn, Sukkoth has
been celebrated for over 3000 years. Sukkoth is
know by 2 names - Hag ha Succot - the Feast of
the Tabernacles and Hag ha Asif - the Feast of
Ingathering. Sukkoth begins on the 15th day of
the Hebrew month of Tishri, 5 days after Yom Kippur
the most solemn day of the Jewish year. Sukkoth
is named for the huts (succots) that Moses and
the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert
for 40 years before they reached the Promised
Land. These huts were made of branches and were
easy to assemble, take apart, and carry as the
Israelites wandered through the desert. When celebrating
Sukkoth, which lasts for 8 days, the Jewish people
build small huts of branches which recall the
tabernacles of their ancestors. These huts are
constructed as temporary shelters, as the branches
are not driven into the ground and the roof is
covered with foliage which is spaced to let the
light in. Inside the huts are hung fruits and
vegetables, including apples, grapes, corn, and
pomegranates. On the first 2 nights of Sukkoth
the families eat their meals in the huts under
the evening sky.
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 festival of
Min featured a parade in which the Pharaoh took
part. After the parade a great feast was held.
Music, dancing, and sports were also part of the
celebration. When the Egyptian farmers harvested
their corn, they wept and pretended to be grief-stricken.
This was to deceive the spirit which they believed
lived in the corn. They feared the spirit would
become angry when the farmers cut down the corn
where it lived.
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