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Friday, November 20, 2009

THANKSGIVING - Does It Have Any Known Pagan Religious Association?

"Thanksgiving Day, first. `Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. The four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.' As James Deetz and Jay Anderson point out in "The Ethnogastronomy of Thanksgiving" (Saturday Review of Science, Nov. 25, 1972), this sole eyewitness description of the festival we now consider the first Thanksgiving - it's by Edward Winslow - nowhere mentions any giving of thanks. Indeed, it bears little relationship to the image of pious sobriety and heaven-directed gratitude we now assume the `first Thanksgiving' to have been. In Deetz's and Anderson's words, `What took place on that fall day some three-and-a-half centuries ago is best understood as the first harvest festival held on American soil, the acting out of an institution of great antiquity in the England the Pilgrims had left behind. It was a time for joy, celebration, and carousing, far removed from any suggestion of solemn religious concern.'

"As the authors go on to point out, the Pilgrims did not choose `a solemn day of thanksgiving' to `formalize their thanks to God.' Rather, they opted for a day of `revelry, sports, and feasts' long known to them back in England as Harvest Home." - pp. 283-284, The Dictionary of Misinformation ("The World's Number One Conversation Starter And Argument Settler"), Burnam, Ballantine Books, 1977.

"Throughout the world harvest has always been the occasion for many queer customs which all have their origin in the animistic belief in the corn [grain]-spirit or corn [grain]-mother. This personification of the crops has left its impress upon the harvest customs of modern Europe. .... Throughout the world, as Sir J. G. Frazer shows, the semi-worship of the last sheaf is or has been the great feature of the harvest-home. Among harvest customs none is more interesting than harvest cries; the Devonshire reapers go through a ceremony which in its main features is a counterpart of pagan worship." - pp. 231-232, Encyclopedia Britannica, volume 11, 14th edition.

"The Pilgrims, who in 1621 observed our initial Thanksgiving holiday, were not a people especially enthusiastic about the celebration of festivals. In fact these austere and religious settlers of America would have been dismayed had they known of the long and popular history of harvest festivals, of which their Thanksgiving was only the latest. .... The harvest festival, with its attendant rites, seems to have spread out from ... Egypt and Syria and Mesopotamia. The first or the last sheaf of wheat was offered to the `Great Mother' .... Astarte [equivalent to Ishtar and Eastre] was the Earth Mother of the ancient Semites; to the Phrygians she was Semele; under the name of Demeter she was worshiped by the Greeks at the famous Eleusinian Mysteries..." - pp. 271-272, Celebrations - The Complete Book of American Holidays, Robert J. Myers, Doubleday & Co., 1972.

"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? .... `Therefore come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord. `Touch NO unclean thing, and I will receive you ...' says the Lord Almighty." - 2 Cor. 6:16, 17, NIVSB. [NIVSB f.n.: "agreement...between the temple of God and idols. There can be no reversion to or compromise with the idolatry they have forsaken for the gospel (cf. 1 Th. 1:9)."]

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