Thanksgiving
The True Harvest Festival?

 

Introduction

So it's been a long arduous journey battling friends and family because you've given up on Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc. Finally, you can lay back on your beliefs and know that even though you've given up so much, at least there is a holiday created by man that you can join in and be with family and friends and not face the battles. Or is there such a holiday?

After so many years of knowing which holidays are outright pagan observances, Thanksgiving seems like such a benign and honorable holiday in which we might participate. However, even Christmas and Easter seemed harmless, when we were observing those days. It's about time we looked into Thanksgiving, the one holiday where we think we can be with family and not face conflicting beliefs, and see just what we really do find there.

Current (?) Thanksgiving Traditions

First we'll review the observance of this day that has come to be known as Thanksgiving in the United States and see what it entails. All of these have become an important part of this day and Americans believe all of these traditions are recent.

Parades

How many of us have gotten up early on Thanksgiving to watch the Macy's parade in New York City? Nevermind that the prominent feature of the parade is the car or float bearing Santa Claus (and Mrs. Claus occasionally). Thus initiating the Christmas shopping season… but we'll overlook that fact for now and just focus on the parade as a whole.

What purpose is served in having a parade other than it actually takes away from the time we should be giving thanks to God? Nothing really. It's just a nicety to fill in the time and make this day into more of an event.

Turkey Dinner / Family Gathering

One of the prime factors of this day is to be gathered around the table enjoying a turkey dinner with the group of loved ones so important in our life. Surely nothing is wrong with that? Is there?

Just remember this one thing: our Father first, our neighbors second, and then us. How does that factor? Does the family get more upset that you don't show up to be with them even though they know you can observe it at home? Shouldn't the observance of giving thanks to God be more important than being among family? We'll discuss this again later.

Giving Thanks to God

While we're on the subject though, this is deemed by every Sabbath-keeper out there to still be important in defining the harmlessness of this holiday. However, most of the observers also keep Easter, where they believe they are also worshipping God. At least they're in church for that holiday.

Pretty much the only giving of thanks to God happens at the main meal of the day with the family around. Not much more is said after that. The rest of the day is taken up with the other items we've listed here. Giving thanks to God tends to rank pretty low on the list of things done in observance of "Thanksgiving".

Sporting Events

The all-American favorite pastime of this day is to watch football while the meal just blessed by the "thanksgiving" digests in our bloated stomachs. Sometimes families choose to even spend their Thanksgiving at the football game. Do they remember to give thanks to God while they're watching the game? (Probably only when their team scores another touchdown.)

Decorations

As is usual with every other observance by mankind, this day is fraught with decorations. Everything has American Indians, turkeys, Pilgrims, cornucopias, harvest foods, orange/yellow/red/brown/gold paraphernalia everywhere. It sure sets the tone, but where is God in all of that?

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Does this just seem like a bunch of silly remarks intended to poke fun at this simple holiday? Sure, but then we are to prove all things according to the scriptures. That means everything must be looked at in detail from many angles to be sure that it's not hiding something more. (You'll also note that not once have we said "Yahweh" in this list. Later on, we'll discuss why the distinction is made here.)

So now that we have a pretty firm grip on what this day entails, let's look at other observances in the past of the harvest and the giving of thanks in relation to that harvest

Harvest Festivals of the Past

Giving thanks for a bountiful harvest is nothing new. Even a basic understanding of the Old Testament shows that Yahweh set aside a time for the celebration of the harvest and to give Him the praise and thanks for the year's bounty. Below are several different customs that span the globe and the millennia.

Greeks

From the website www.holidays.net, the following information is provided on the page titled "The History of Thanksgiving and its Celebrations" .

The 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.

What is truly interesting to note here is that they would "build leafy shelters and furnish them with couches made with plants." This sounds vaguely familiar. Turn to Leviticus 23:40-43…

40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before Yahweh your Elohim seven days. 
41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto Yahweh seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 
42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 
43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am Yahweh your Elohim.

So it would seem the Greeks copied this tradition of building a booth out of leafy branches of trees from the scriptures. It is likely that the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles was perverted by the disobedient Israelites into worship of pagan gods.

The following is a description of the origin of this festival from David Noy's Notes on the Scholiast to Lucian's Dialogues of the Courtesans

"It is called Thesmophoria, because Demeter is called Thesmophoros in respect of her establishing laws or thesmoi in accordance with which men must provide nourishment and work the land."

This is basically a festival of the "law-giver" (which is what Thesmophoria is) and her commandments to men to provide for the family by working the land. The only true lawgiver is our Father, Yahweh.

There is more information about this festival of Thesmophoria on the website of ancienthistory.about.com on the page titled "Greek Thanksgiving" .

A similar festival was held in Ancient Greece, in honor of the goddess who taught mankind to tend the soil, during a month known as Pyanopsion (Puanepsion), according to the lunisolar calendar of the Athenians. Since our calendar is solar, the month doesn't exactly match, but Pyanopsion would be, more or less, October into November.

This pretty much coincides with the timely observance of Thanksgiving. This observance was strictly for the women…

On the 11-13 of Pyanopsion, Greek matrons took a break from their usually homebound lives. They participated in the autumn sowing (Sporetos) festival known as Thesmophoria. Although the practices are a mystery, the matrons appear to have symbolically relived the anguish of Demeter when her daughter Kore/Persephone was abducted by Hades and to have asked for her help in obtaining a bountiful harvest. Demeter (the Greek Ceres) was the goddess of grain who refused to eat or feed the world until the other gods arranged a satisfactory resolution to her conflict with Hades over Persephone. After her reunion with her daughter, Demeter gave the gift of agriculture to mankind.

And so mankind was blessed with the knowledge of agriculture, notwithstanding that agriculture has been around since creation and the Garden. This custom does not have any direct links to Thanksgiving except that the participants prayed for a good harvest in the coming year.

Another item of note coming from Greek mythology is the following tidbit from tulip.elysiumgates.com under "The Thanksgiving Story" .

One of the most recognizable symbols of Thanksgiving is the cornucopia, also called horn of plenty. It is a decorative motif, originating in ancient Greece, that symbolizes abundance. The original cornucopia was a curved goat's horn filled to overflowing with fruit and grain. It symbolizes the horn possessed by Zeus's nurse, the Greek nymph Amalthaea, which could be filled with whatever the owner wished.

Such a popular decoration used at this time of year.

Romans

Again, from "The History of Thanksgiving and its Celebrations".

The 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.

From www.encyclopedia.com, we find this entry under "Ceres" .

Ceres in Roman religion and mythology, goddess of grain; daughter of Saturn and Ops. She was identified by the Romans with the Greek Demeter. Her worship was connected with that of the earth goddess and involved not only fertility rites but also rites for the dead. Her chief festival was the Cerealia, celebrated on Apr. 19, and her most famous cult was that of the temple on the Aventine Hill. There is much argument about the origins and nature of her cults.

From www.novaroma.org, the following is titled "Cereialia" .

The Cerealia is the celebration of the Goddess Ceres, Goddess of grains and cereal crops. It lasts for eight days, and like the Megalesia before it, the Cerealia culminates on its final day. It climaxes with great chariot-races, presided over by the plebeian aediles; white robes are worn at the Games. One of the symbolic rituals of the final day is the release of foxes into the Circus with flaming brands attached to their tails.

Note the similarity in length of this observance with that of the Feast of Tabernacles in Leviticus 23:39

39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto Yahweh seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.

Also note that this festival included great chariot races, the main sporting event of its era.

Egyptians

From "The History of Thanksgiving and its Celebrations".

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.

Notice once more that the parade played an important role in this festival. Sports were included in the celebration. The time of year is not important when you consider that this was their harvest season, thus, their harvest festival.

Chinese

From the website www.harvestfestivals.net under "Chinese Harvest Festival" .

No one can be sure of the origins of the Harvest Moon Festival also called the Mid-Autumn Festival. The origins were romanticised by the story of Chang Er, who was believed to have taken a pill and became a fairy and flown to the moon to escape from the pursuit of her husband. It was thought that we could see Chang Er on the moon when it is at its brightest usually the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. The exact date in the Western calendar changes from year to year but it is approximately in September.

The starting date of this festival is on the 15th day of the 8th month. Now we know that the Feast of Tabernacles began on the 15th day of the 7th month, so it doesn't seem to be a coincidence until you review the story of Jeroboam in I Kings 12:32

32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.

Coincidence? Maybe.

Korean

From the website www.harvestfestivals.net under "Korean Harvest Festival" .

The 15th day of the eighth lunar month is Ch'usok, or also known as the Harvest Moon Festival.

Koreans begin the day with rites honoring their ancestors. Offerings are made of newly harvested foods. Songp'yon, crescent-shaped rice cakes stuffed with sesame seeds, chestnut paste or beans, are a Ch'usok favorite.Families visit the graves of their ancestors to bow and clean the area for the coming winter.

Activities for the day include masked dance, Kanggangsuwollae, an ancient circle dance, tug-of-war game and the tortoise game, kobuk-nori, in which two men dress as a tortoise and tour the village dancing and performing for food and drink.

Being in the Asian region of the world, it is not unusual for it to be the same time as the Chinese version, but note that a lot of the activities here involved sporting events.

Great Britain (Celtic/Wiccan)

From Mabon Celebrations

The Fall Equinox is associated with the classical myth of Demeter and Persephone. Persephone was abducted by Hades at this time of the year, and September was the time of the Eleusinian mysteries in ancient Greece. One Wiccan tradition enacts a modern version of these mysteries in September every year. Throughout Europe, a variety of customs have surrounded the cutting of the last sheaf of the grain harvest. In fact, there is such a pattern of opposite beliefs in different localities that one is tempted to think that customs were in some places deliberately turned around backwards as part of the process of Christianization. The last farmer in the neighborhood to finish the harvest might be the subject of teasing or penalties. Being last can be interpreted as good luck or bad luck, or may presage marriage in the coming year. In some places the last sheaf must be cut by a man, and in some places by a woman. Various techniques are used to select the reaper of the last sheaf by chance. Keeping the last sheaf may be said to ensure plenty or famine in the coming year, depending on the region. The last sheaf might be hung up to preside over the threshing or the harvest feast, and then kept until the following year. In some places the sheaf might be thrown onto the fields to ensure a good crop at the time of the next year's spring sowing. In other places the last sheaf, was ritually burned, or fed to sick animals to cure them, or thrown to the first fowl to be butchered. Bits of harvested grain were used for hair ornaments or buttonholes. The last sheaf might be woven into an elaborate decorative "corn dolly."

It would seem this was the precursor to what we find as traditions related to the English "Harvest Home" as mentioned in the following article on www.britannica.com

also called INGATHERING, traditional English harvest festival, celebrated from antiquity and surviving to modern times in isolated regions. Participants celebrate the last day of harvest by singing, shouting, and decorating the village with boughs. The cailleac, or last sheaf of corn, which represents the spirit of the field, is made into a harvest doll and drenched with water as a rain charm. This sheaf is saved until spring planting.

Further discussion of the harvest home on the website www.harvestfestivals.net under "English Harvest Festival" is given below.

In England the harvest festival is called the harvest home. This festival usually takes place during September. Offerings of fruit and vegetables are placed around the altar for a thanksgiving service that would make sure there was a good crop for the next year. After the service the offerings are given to those less fortunate.

The Harvest Home festival is held at the end of September once all harvesting of all crops has been finished. People take great pride in decorating the churches and often keep the best of the harvest for this festival.

The altar in the churches is decorated with vases which hold autumn leaves, berries and flowers and special tables are set up to hold the offerings that people bring. There are pumpkins, cabbages, baskets of fruit and vegetables of all kinds. Sometimes the window ledges are used to display the results of harvest.

People also come to church to say prayers of thanks and sing hymns. At the end of the service the produce that has been left as offerings are each blessed and sent to hospitals for the sick and needy. Also in some places at the end of the day there is a Harvest Home supper after which people dance and have a band play.

Delving deeper into Mabon, we find the following from www.paganspath.com under the article "Mabon - The Fall Equinox" .

As a holiday, Mabon represents the time of honoring the dead, visiting burial sites, giving thankfulness for the end of the harvest season and the bounty it provides. These are the themes of closing, letting go and remembering. For the year, the harvest and for those who were lost to land of Avalon during the year.

Although many view the Harvest season as a celebration of life, it is also a celebration of death. The bounty you gather from your garden provides nourishment for you, family and friends. But it is also the death of those plants and vegetables which have been harvested from that garden. Thus Mabon is a celebration of the cycle of life.

Another resource for information about Mabon was www.wicca.com under their article "Mabon By Akasha".

The Autumn Equinox divides the day and night equally, and we all take a moment to pay our respects to the impending dark. We also give thanks to the waning sunlight, as we store our harvest of this year's crops. The Druids call this celebration, Mea'n Fo'mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth

What was more telling about the link between Mabon and Thanksgiving was to read this additional sentence from the same resource:

Colors of Mabon: Red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, and gold.

Coincidence? Maybe.

Yahweh's Thanksgiving

Finally we come down to the harvest festival as prescribed by the scriptures in Leviticus 23:33-44

33 And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying, 
34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto Yahweh. 
35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 
36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein. 
37 These are the feasts of Yahweh, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: 
38 Beside the sabbaths of Yahweh, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto Yahweh. 
39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto Yahweh seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. 
40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before Yahweh your Elohim seven days. 
41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto Yahweh seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 
42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 
43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am Yahweh your Elohim. 
44 And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of Yahweh.

Family Gatherings

The entire family was together for this Feast for no one was left behind, including the strangers and Levites within their gates. There were no exceptions; the entire nation of Israel was called forward to celebrate this time of the year.

Giving thanks to Yahweh for the harvest He has provided

The prescription for the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles can also be found in Deuteronomy 16:13-15

13 Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: 
14 And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates. 
15 Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto Yahweh thy Elohim in the place which Yahweh shall choose: because Yahweh thy Elohim shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.

What further commandment do you need to know what to do at the Feast of Tabernacles? This festival is the only time of year in which we are told to come before Yahweh and rejoice, give thanks, and feast, no other such commandment exists.

Reasons the world uses to encourage the observance of Thanksgiving

Family Gatherings

Just because this is the only time of year the family plans on getting together is not a worthy reason for attending to such an observance as this. The world looks on this day as so important to gather together for family that the travel industry gets a larger boost at this one time of the year than for Christmas. But communal family closeness is not what we should strive towards. Yahshua in Matthew 10:34-37 says:

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Many of the religions we just covered also encourage family togetherness as an important factor in the harvest worship. Another example of this was in the article entitled "Mabon by Akasha".

It is the drawing to and of family as we prepare for the winding down of the year at Samhain.

Samhain is the celebration that we call Halloween.

The fact remains, Yahweh first, ourselves last.

Thanking God for Worldly Goods

Every one of the religions above thanked God for their possessions. However, the focus in every case, including modern Thanksgiving, is not on our Creator, but on ourselves. All of the observances include events or activities to fulfill self-gratification. This is the exact opposite of thanking the Father for all that we have.

Tradition

There are so many things done in the name of tradition without batting an eye at the origins. Just remember that we covered parades (originating from parades done by the Egyptians and Romans), decorations (done by the early English and Chinese, including the very same colors used today), sporting events (also participated in by the Koreans and Romans), and family gatherings (done by all of the above).

Here is an excerpt of the story of that first Thanksgiving held by the Pilgrims:

The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast -- including 91 Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance. It lasted three days.

This "thanksgiving" feast was not repeated the following year. But in 1623, during a severe drought, the pilgrims gathered in a prayer service, praying for rain. When a long, steady rain followed the very next day, Governor Bradford proclaimed another day of Thanksgiving, again inviting their Indian friends. It wasn't until June of 1676 that another Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed.

Notice that there was no "tradition" of Thanksgiving as after 1623, it wasn't done again for over 50 years! Tradition does not excuse it as in Colossians 2:8

8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Yahshua.

Also in I Peter 1:18-19

18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 
19 But with the precious blood of Yahshua, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Note once more, tradition is nothing when compared to the truth of the scriptures.

It's not Pagan; it was started in the U.S.

So was the red and white outfit worn by Santa Claus, but that makes it no less pagan than Santa Claus himself. Just keep in mind that Sara Josepha Hale, who lobbied and succeeded in getting the president to name Thanksgiving as a national holiday, was the wife of a Mason. No less pagan than most of Christianity.

Conclusion

Thanksgiving, albeit harmless as it seems, is no less pagan or unscriptural as the more well-known holidays of Christmas and Easter. The makeup covering the surface of this one is just a little less baudy, but it conceals many things that are disgusting in the sight of Yahweh.

 

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