Thanks Giving around the World

Thanks Giving around the World

Long before Thanksgiving Day originated in America, there were harvest festivals celebrated all around the world, with agriculture being the chief occupation. The humans then feared the unknown and thought everything that they could not understand was supernatural and thus, the notion of evil spirits came into existence. The ancient Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, Chinese and Egyptians performed rituals and celebrated festivals to either please or ward off these evil spirits. Here are a few of the harvest festivals similar to Thanksgiving Day:

Greek Civilization:

Thesmosphoria was a 3-day harvest festival of the ancient Greeks. It was celebrated in the autumn to honor Demeter, the Greek Goddess of food grains. During this festival, on the first day, married women (to represent fertility) built beautiful shelters for the Goddess to rest complete with comfy couches and plants. On the second day, they fasted and the festival ended with a grand feast on the third day that included delectable offerings for the Goddess, prepared from seed corn, to win her blessings for a bountiful harvest and included cakes, fruits and pigs.

Roman Civilization:

Romans celebrated Celeria on 4 October every year in honor of Ceres, the Roman Goddess of corn. The Goddess was offered first fruits of the harvest and pigs. The highlights of this harvest festival were parades, games, music and dance along with a grand thanksgiving feast.

Chinese Civilization:

Chung Ch’ui is a 3-day long Chinese harvest festival. This festival is believed to be in the honour of the moon that is said to be born on this day. It was celebrated on the full moon day of the 8th month. The highlights of the festival are round yellow ‘moon cakes’ with an image of a rabbit on them. It was believed that the moon showers flowers on earth on this day but only those who are blessed with an exceptionally good fortune could see them. The thanksgiving feast of this festival included a roasted pig and first fruits of the harvest.

Hebrew Civilization:

Over 3000-year old, the 8-day long Sukkoth is a Jewish harvest festival. It is celebrated in autumn on the 15th day of the month of Tishri (according to the Hebrew calendar). It is celebrated to commemorate the hardships of Moses and his follower Israelites while they wandered in the desert for forty years and had to live in the makeshift huts (known as succots) that were like camping tents of today. However, these succots were made up of branches and had a roof of foliage where they used to hang fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, corn and pomegranates.

Egyptian Civilization:

The spring harvest festival of Egypt was celebrated to honour Min, the Egyptian God of vegetation and fertility. The highlights of the festival included a grand parade with Pharaoh, their ruler, as the centre of attraction and a gala feast along with music, dance and sports. However, there was one typical custom of the festival that sets it apart from other harvest festivals. There was much weeping and grief by the farmers as they harvested their corn, which was meant to be a hoax to the spirit of corn, to escape its wrath and engage its pity as they cut down the corn.

Does your culture celebrate Thanks Giving? How?

Article by Susanne Evens CEO

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