A Thanksgiving – Humanist Style
Every year, on the last Thursday in November, celebrations of Thanksgiving take place across the United States. The ‘First Thanksgiving’, as it is commonly known, was celebrated by the pilgrims in 1621, following their first harvest in the New World. It lasted 3 days and had 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims in attendance.
Although the roots of America’s Thanksgiving traditionally surround the worship of god, there is actually a long tradition of harvest-time celebrations and thanksgiving celebrations around the world. The ancient Greeks held a three-day festival every autumn, to honour Demeter, the goddess of corn and grains. The Romans honoured Ceres, the goddess of corn (the word “cereal” is derived from her name). The celebrations included music, parades, games, sports and a feast, much like modern Thanksgiving. Finally, the ancient Chinese held a harvest festival called Chung Ch’ui to celebrate the harvest moon. Families would gather together for a feast, which included round yellow cakes called “moon cakes.”
For those who choose to lead a secular life, taking time to recognise that we all have reason to be grateful is a valuable thing to do. And for many, being able to say a ‘secular grace’ during these celebrations of thanks offers a way to do just that. Secular Grace fulfils a need and their growth in popularity is becoming evident. I really like the example below, as it perfectly illustrates the balance between nature and humanity, our cycle of nature and why we should cherish our planet and each other:
From the freshly baked breads
To delicious meats and treats
This meal is the work
Of many hands
For all of us to share
From the seeds in the field
And animals in the barn
To this table of family and friends
Hard work has provided us
A bounty of tender, loving care. (Van Curren)
And i’m sure we can all agree that being able to take a moment to thank the ones we care for and to be grateful for all we have in life is something that we should all do, no matter where our beliefs lie.
And so THANK YOU! (For reading my blog)!