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Thanksgiving (Holiday)


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"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.

Note what the publication Holidays Around the World, by Joseph Gaer says about Thanksgiving:

"Thanksgiving for the annual harvest is one of the oldest holidays known to mankind ... 'The Romans celebrated their Thanksgiving early in October. The holiday was dedicated to the goddess of harvest, Ceres, and the holiday was called Cerelia. 'The Christians took over the Roman holiday and it became well established in England, where some of the Roman customs and rituals for this day were observed ... "

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"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

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God has always demanded that our worship to him, no matter how small, must be pure and untainted. God Himself said:

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"And God proceeded to speak all these words, saying...You must not have any other gods against my face. Because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting EXCLUSIVE DEVOTION." (Ex. 20:1-5)

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Thanksgiving Fast For the citizens in the newly independent United States, “thanksgiving” had a different meaning than we know today. Instead of giving thanks through a large meal, Americans gav

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land. ~Jon Stewart 

Curiously, the nation of Israel was also asked to celebrate the harvest with its attendant rites, offering up the first sheaf of wheat to Jehovah. (Exodus 34:22,26) 22 “And you will celebrate yo

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Thanksgiving Fast

For the citizens in the newly independent United States, “thanksgiving” had a different meaning than we know today. Instead of giving thanks through a large meal, Americans gave thanks by fasting.  

During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress issued several proclamations suggesting national days of fasting and thanksgiving like this one for May 20, 1779. Calls for national days of prayer and thanksgiving were made with the hope that “Divine Providence” would favor the American cause. They also served a patriotic purpose as they gathered people together in houses of worship—across denominations and the country—to pray for American victory in the war. 

US National Archives

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Just a thought.....I've met thousands of Christians through out many holiday celebrations, and not once did I ever see a Christian worshipping any of these pagan gods. However it is Jehovah's Witnesses and other denominations who refuse to worship God a few days a year, you are giving these pagan gods more power and control than Jehovah, by acknowledging that they must be worshipped by anyone other than you.

And another aspect I have read from the watchtower magazines is you must be a member of your religion and go to a kingdom hall and dress in a certain way in order to please Jehovah, that is true idolatry.

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Matthew you do realize in reading what Jehovah asked of the nation of Israel was that they be HIS special property, any who wanted to serve had to go through certain things be part of the nation. And there was a certain dress code for this nation called in his name. You did know this, right?

No one can do things on their own to gain salvation, Jesus himself said there must 2 or 3 among you and there I will be. So no lone wolf. Paul's admonition to gather together regularly was in line with what Jesus wanted for his followers. Those such gatherings happen at the Kingdom Hall. Go and enjoy the fellowship.

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19 minutes ago, John Houston said:

Matthew you do realize in reading what Jehovah asked of the nation of Israel was that they be HIS special property, any who wanted to serve had to go through certain things be part of the nation.

 

On 9/15/2016 at 11:44 PM, Nicole said:

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

Curiously, the nation of Israel was also asked to celebrate the harvest with its attendant rites, offering up the first sheaf of wheat to Jehovah.

  • (Exodus 34:22,26) 22 “And you will celebrate your Festival of Weeks with the first ripe fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering [Harvest] at the turn of the year. . . . 26 “The best of the first ripe fruits of your soil you are to bring to the house of Jehovah your God.

Two of the three primary holy festivals were Harvest festivals:

  • (Exodus 23:15-17) . . .. 16 Also, you are to observe the Festival of Harvest of the first ripe fruits of your labors, of what you sow in the field; and the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the results of your labors. 17 Three times a year all your men are to appear before the true Lord, Jehovah.

Many in Israel confused this with the same rites that others followed and offered these not just to Jehovah, but according to some of the earliest mentions of Jehovah's name in Hebrew archaeology: Jehovah and his Astoret (Astarte/Ashtoreth).

Some of the "attendant rituals" for the harvest holiday periods included the following:

  • (Leviticus 2:12-16) 12 “‘You may present them to Jehovah as an offering of the firstfruits, but they must not be brought to the altar as a pleasing aroma. 13 “‘Every grain offering you make is to be seasoned with salt; and you must not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be missing from your grain offering. Along with every offering of yours, you will present salt. 14 “‘If you present the grain offering of the first ripe fruits to Jehovah, you should present new grain roasted with fire, coarsely crushed new kernels, as the grain offering of your first ripe fruits. 15 You are to put oil on it and place frankincense on it. It is a grain offering. 16 The priest will make it smoke as a token offering, that is, some of the coarse grain and oil along with all its frankincense, as an offering made by fire to Jehovah.
  • (Leviticus 23:9-21) 9 Jehovah continued to speak to Moses, saying: 10 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you eventually come into the land that I am giving you and you have reaped its harvest, you must bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 And he will wave the sheaf back and forth before Jehovah to gain approval for you. The priest should wave it on the day after the Sabbath. . . .  13 Its grain offering will be two tenths of an eʹphah of fine flour mixed with oil, as an offering made by fire to Jehovah, a pleasing aroma. Its drink offering will be a fourth of a hin of wine. 14 You must not eat any bread, roasted grain, or new grain until this day, until you bring the offering of your God. It is a lasting statute for all your generations wherever you dwell. 15 “‘You are to count seven sabbaths from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you bring the sheaf of the wave offering. They should be complete weeks. 16 You will count off 50 days until the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then you should present a new grain offering to Jehovah. 17 You should bring from your dwelling places two loaves as a wave offering. These should be made of two tenths of an eʹphah of fine flour. They should be baked with leaven, as first ripe fruits to Jehovah. . . . They will serve as a burnt offering to Jehovah along with the corresponding grain offering and drink offerings, as an offering made by fire, of a pleasing aroma to Jehovah. . . . They should serve as something holy to Jehovah for the priest. 21 On this day you will make a proclamation for a holy convention for yourselves. You may not do any hard work. It is a lasting statute in all your dwelling places for all your generations.

 

Even more curiously, I am re-reading the Iliad -- a brand new non-poetic translation that does not attempt the fake, stilted language that was never part of the original, but which is always loved by academics and scholars. There are many more points of similarity between Greek and Hebrew religion than I had noticed previously. The most common point of similarity that people point out is the fact that Jehovah finds the aroma of sacrifice pleasing and so do the Greek gods. There are other points of similarity I hadn't noticed until now. (A later post, perhaps.)

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On ‎11‎/‎27‎/‎2017 at 7:56 AM, John Houston said:

Matthew you do realize in reading what Jehovah asked of the nation of Israel was that they be HIS special property, any who wanted to serve had to go through certain things be part of the nation. And there was a certain dress code for this nation called in his name. You did know this, right?

No one can do things on their own to gain salvation, Jesus himself said there must 2 or 3 among you and there I will be. So no lone wolf. Paul's admonition to gather together regularly was in line with what Jesus wanted for his followers. Those such gatherings happen at the Kingdom Hall. Go and enjoy the fellowship.

Doesn't the watchtower teach that Jehovah finally gave up on the nation and replaced it with a spiritual nation of Israelites which consist of only the anointed 144,000 when Jesus wept upon entering Jerusalem?

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On 11/27/2017 at 6:50 AM, JW Insider said:

Curiously, the nation of Israel was also asked to celebrate the harvest with its attendant rites, offering up the first sheaf of wheat to Jehovah.

Hi JWinsider

Quick question. What would be the difference between keeping a commandment versus keeping a tradition?  Did the Israelites force, kill, and infect with diseases native Americans by their traditions? Native American is rhetorical of course.

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On 11/27/2017 at 9:50 AM, JW Insider said:

The most common point of similarity that people point out is the fact that Jehovah finds the aroma of sacrifice pleasing and so do the Greek gods

Nothing surprising really. I find the aroma of my husband's cooking "sacrifice" very pleasing too! :D

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4 hours ago, Foreigner said:

Quick question. What would be the difference between keeping a commandment versus keeping a tradition?

Sounds rhetorical, here, too. One, of course, involves a commandment from a higher authority and a tradition just refers to periodically repeated actions (or attendant rites) not based on any specific requirements or commandments. I suppose you might be pointing out the fact that the Israelites were keeping a command to celebrate their harvests, and Thanksgiving has nothing to with a command to celebrate harvests. If this is what you are saying, I would agree.

4 hours ago, Foreigner said:

Did the Israelites force, kill, and infect with diseases native Americans by their traditions?

The Israelites played a part in every one of those actions toward the native Egyptians in the land they left and toward the Canaanites and other related nations in the land promised to them, and even towards non-conforming members of their own nation of Israelites. But it was by command of God, as they understood it, or through the direct actions of God.   

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