Much before Thanksgiving Day originated in America, there were harvest festivals celebrated all around the world, since agriculture was the chief occupation and the precursor of the earlier human civilization. People, then, feared the unknown and thought everything was related to the supernatural and thus, the notion of evil spirits came into existence. The ancient Greek, Roman, Hebrew, Chinese and Egyptian performed rituals and celebrated festivals to either please or ward off these evil spirits. We will see here a few of those harvest festivals that are much like Thanksgiving Day in their conception.
Thesmophoria 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. On the first day of this festival, 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. The festival ended with a grand feast on the third day, which included delectable offerings for the Goddess, prepared from seed corn, to win her blessings for a bountiful harvest, cakes, fruits and pigs.
Romans celebrated Celeria on 4th of October every year, in the honor of Ceres, the Roman Goddess of Corn. The Goddess was offered first fruits of the harvest, along with pigs. The highlights of this harvest festival were parades, games, music and dances, along with a grand thanksgiving feast.
Chung Ch'ui was a 3-day long harvest festival of China. This festival was held in the honor of moon, which 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 were round and yellow 'moon cakes', with an image of rabbit on them. It was believed that 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. However, there is another version of the story, which involves a clever strategy of the Chinese to win back their freedom from the enemies. It is said that when enemy armies took over China, the native women cooked special moon cakes and distributed them to every family, in the name of this festival. What enemies couldn't guess was that there were secret messages hidden in each of these moon cakes, which ultimately led to their downfall.
Over 3000-year old, 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 the 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.
The spring harvest festival of Egypt was celebrated to honor Min, the Egyptian God of Vegetation and Fertility. The highlights of the festival included a grand parade with Pharaoh, their ruler, as the center of attraction and a gala feast, along with music, dance and sports. However, there was one typical custom of the festival that set it apart from other harvest festivals. There was much weeping and show-off of 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.
Thanksgiving In Canada
Thanksgiving is an annual holiday in Canada and is more or less, considered a secular celebration (though God is thanked for a good harvest season). Canadian Thanksgiving is also associated with a harvest festival, just like the Thanksgiving celebrations in US.
Thanksgiving In Germany
In Germany, Thanksgiving is a harvest festival known as Erntedankfest. Its celebrations have been a long standing tradition in not only Germany, but the other German-speaking countries of Europe as well. In Germany, Thanksgiving is mainly a rural celebration, with religious significance. In the large cities of country,
Thanksgiving In USA
In the United States of America (USA), Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. An annual celebration, it represents the time of communal Thanksgiving, expression of gratitude and lavish feasts. The original pilgrims had celebrated the autumn harvest with a 'feast of thanks', in which people from the neighborhood were also invited to share the meal.
Labor Thanksgiving Day
Labor Thanksgiving Day, Kinro-kasha-no-hi in Japanese, is a popular festival in Japan. It is observed every year on 23rd November. This celebration has been derived from ancient tradition of Shinto harvest festival which was celebrated by kings to thank for bountiful harvest. On the occasion of Shinto harvest festival
Tet Trung Thu
Tet Trung Thu or Thanksgiving is one of the important festivals in Vietnam. The day falls on 15th of eighth month in lunar calendar. It is also known as moon festival. Legend has it that wife of Cuoi had, by mistake, passed urine on sanctified banyan tree. Not knowing that she defiled the tree, she then sat on the branch of the tree.
Thanksgiving In Brazil
Thanksgiving is a well-known festival and a popular holiday celebrated with great enthusiasm. Thanksgiving is also known as the 'harvest festival'. On this day, the people offer their prayers and appreciation to God for the great harvest and all the blessings. A special reunion is organized on this day, where all the members of the family
Thanksgiving in China
Thanksgiving, the popular American festival, is making inroads into China. The festival is largely celebrated amongst Americans and Canadians who are settled in China. In schools, teachers tell about the meaning of Thanksgiving holiday to students in the class. However, children and elders in China drew new meaning out of it by thanking
Thanksgiving In Israel
Thanksgiving or the 'harvest festival' is the day where people express gratitude to God for all the great things in life whether small or big. Family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors get together on this day to celebrate and mark the end of the harvest festival.
Thanksgiving In Mexico
Thanksgiving is a famous, American holiday, celebrated with great gusto. The reason behind celebrating Thanksgiving Day is to show some appreciation and gratitude to God for all the blessings in life. People today are more fortunate and blessed than their ancestors.