Once again it is time to be thankful but what is not known to many is the fact that for hundreds of years similar holidays of giving thanks are noted historically around the world and even in Roman times.
In Roman times a festival connected to corn, and rituals commenced on April 12th honoring and worshiping the daughter of Saturn, who’s name was Ceres, the ancient pagan earth goddess of agricultural abundance. The name was derived from the Latin word ‘Cerealis’ meaning “of grain” from which we derive the modern word ‘cereal’. So shall we worship the earth on this day?
The American tradition of Thanksgiving however differs greatly from this mythological twist of a Roman goddess who was actually one of many deities that offered false hope to a country and an event which would eventually become the fall of Rome.
Now then, in tracing the origin and meaning of America’s Thanksgiving tradition it is a worthwhile endeavor to first look at those first English settlers who crossed the ocean blue in 1620.
At this time, sickness at sea took a high toll on 51 of the 102 passengers who fled from England. Those 51 were lost. And when the survivors on the Mayflower finally landed at Plymouth, MA. on November 11th, in the area known commonly as Cape Cod, a dedicated group consisting of 41 Pilgrim Christians ended up signing the Mayflower Compact that very same day. Noted in these writings is the covenant among this core group who proclaimed that their journey had been accomplished by the grace of God and had also been undertaken for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith. It is true that America’s first beginnings were clearly rooted in the Christian faith and spreading the gospel.
Even so, though food provisions had made for their destination, the unfortunate seasonal timing of this remarkable event took another turn where roughly half of these survivors died during the first winter. Finally, as spring had sprung there were two friendly tribes of Indians that helped the Pilgrims to fish and plant crops in order that their existence could be maintained during the summer and winter of 1621. These two groups were of the Patuxet and the Wampanoag Tribes who greatly helped in the survival of these first, but few Americans that remained.
And by the autumn of 1621 the harvest was plentiful and as it had previously been their tradition, a gathering of grateful colonists gave thanks to God in the presence of 90 Wampanoag Indians who also
joined in this historic and first event which we call Thanksgiving
This year, as we join with friends and relatives on this grand occasion, let us also try to remember to give thanks daily for those many blessings that God bestows upon us. No matter how great the trials, how heavy the load, or how long the road, there are always blessings along the way. If we are faithful in little, God will bless us in much. It is said that we shall reap what we sow.
Remember to cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Finally, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God. Happy Thanksgiving to all!