Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Plain Truth About Thanksgiving
People seem to think that the origin of Thanksgiving is so pure and holy that everyone can now observe this day with a clear conscience -- thinking that this is pleasing to YEHOVAH God. The TRUTH is rather different...
John D. Keyser
The Following text was taken from Russel Means' autobiography entitled: Where White Men Fear To Tread. It discusses the background to the first "Thanksgiving" on American shores:
"When we met with the Wampanoag people, they told us that in researching the history of Thanksgiving, they had confirmed the oral history passed down through their generations. Most Americans know that Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoag, had welcomed the so-called Pilgrim Fathers -- and the seldom mentioned Pilgrim Mothers -- to the shores where his people had lived for millennia. The Wampanoag taught the European colonists how to live in our hemisphere by showing them what wild foods they could gather, how, where, and what crops to plant, and how to harvest, dry, and preserve them.
"The Wampanoag now wanted to remind white America of what had happened after Massasoit's death. Massasoit was succeeded by his son, Metacomet, whom the colonists called "King" Philip. In 1675-1676, to show "gratitude" for what Massasoit's people had done for their fathers and grandfathers, the Pilgrims manufactured an incident as a pretext to justify disarming the Wampanoag.
"The whites went after the Wampanoag with guns, swords, cannons, and torches. Most, including Metacomet, were butchered. His wife and son were sold into slavery in the West Indies. His body was hideously drawn and quartered.
"For twenty-five years afterward, Metacomet's skull was displayed on a pike above the whites' village. The real legacy of the Pilgrim Fathers is treachery. Most Americans today believe that Thanksgiving celebrates a boar harvest, but that is not so.
"By 1970, the Wampanoag had turned up a copy of a Thanksgiving proclamation made by the governor of the colony, the text revealed the ugly truth:
'After a colonial militia had returned from murdering the men, women, and children of an Indian village, the governor proclaimed a holiday and feast to give thanks for the massacre. He encouraged other colonies to do likewise -- in other words, every autumn the crops are in, go kill Indians and celebrate your murders with a feast.'
"The Wampanoag we met at Plymouth came from everywhere in Massachusetts. Like many other eastern nations, theirs had been all but wiped out. The survivors found refuge in other Indian nations that had not succumbed to European diseases or to violence. The Wampanoag went into hiding or joined the Six Nations or found homes among the Delaware Shawnee nations, to name a few. Some also sought refuge in one of the two hundred eastern-seaboard nations that were later exterminated.
"Nothing remains of those nations but their names, and even some of those have been lost. Other Wampanoag, who couldn't reach another Indian nation, survived by intermarriage with black slaves or freedmen. It is hard to imagine a life terrible enough that people would choose instead, with all their progeny, to become slaves, but that is exactly what some Indians did."
The World's Thanksgiving Day
A Part Of The Ancient Pagan Harvest Festivals
We find the following in the publication entitled Thanksgiving --
"In the calendars of all people, certain days have been set aside for special religious or secular observances or as possessing a special character. Among these days, some have always been primarily religious in character; some were once of religious or superstitious significance but are no longer so; and some were wholly secular in origin and remain wholly secular in observance. Holy Days are possessed of some currently accepted religious significance, while Holidays, the occasions for which are religious or secular, are generally observed by a day off of work or school.
"The observance of occasions of religious significance has long been of great importance in the lives of all peoples. By studying the rites the ancient people observed to obtain the good will of evil spirits, to enlist the aid of benevolent ones, to ensure fertility in the fields, to CELEBRATE THE HARVEST, and to celebrate seasonal changes it is obvious the degree to which primitive religion was concerned with the PHENOMENA OF NATURE.
"When one studies the significance and origin of today's Christian religious observances, one then realizes that primitive pagan rites have been incorporated in and combined with Christian traditional celebrations. There is another holiday celebrated by nearly all people in these United States and throughout this world. This holiday is called THANKSGIVING in the United States.
"From the propaganda of public schools, every American THINKS they know HOW Thanksgiving ORIGINATED:
'In 1620, the small band of Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony braved the perilous North Atlantic Crossing in quest of religious freedom. Then they landed in November and faced winter with meager supplies of food that dwindled rapidly. Fifty-five of the original one-hundred two people coming on the Mayflower died before spring. Because the summer was blessed with rain and the autumn harvest was plentiful, the Pilgrim colony, appropriately grateful, established a day of Thanksgiving and invited the local Indians to share their bounty.'
"SUPPOSEDLY, this is the ORIGIN of the Holiday known as THANKSGIVING and it is so PURE and HOLY that EVERYONE can now observe this Thanksgiving Day with a CLEAR CONSCIENCE, thinking that this is pleasing to our Heavenly Father Yahweh.
"The truth is rather different...
"The historical official Thanksgiving Day was not even a day completely given to thanks and praise, as the Pilgrims were accustomed to doing. This day was primarily a show of military power for the Indians" (House of Yahweh, Abilene, TX).
Thanksgiving, An American Holiday, An American History, by Diana Karter Applebaum, 1984, pages 7-11, tells us the true story of the Pilgrims' Feast in the fall of 1621:
"Landing at Plymouth in December 1620, the Pilgrims faced winter without an adequate food supply, sheltered from the elements only by such dwellings as they could build quickly. Unseen, dreaded Indians lurked in the woods, their intentions unknown...
"The first autumn, an ample harvest insured that the colony would have food for the winter months. Governor Bradford, with one eye on the divine Providence, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to God, and with the other eye on the local political situation, extended an invitation to neighboring Indians to share in the harvest feast. In order to guarantee that the feast served to cement a peaceful relationship, the THREE-DAY long meal was punctuated by DISPLAYS of the POWER of English MUSKETS for the BENEFIT OF suitably IMPRESSED Indian guests."
However satisfying it would be to point to a particular day and say, "This was the first Thanksgiving", it definitely would NOT be the truth. Thanksgiving was not a New England holiday, springing up full grown and completely armed with roast turkey and cranberry sauce from the head of a Pilgrim Father. This "American Holiday" gradually has an ORIGIN MORE COMPLEX THAN the LEGEND the public schools have nurtured for generations.
The Harvest Home
The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1980, Volume 5, tells of Harvest Home:
"HARVEST HOME, 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.
The ANCIENT FESTIVAL also included the symbolic MURDER of the grain spirit, as well as rites for expelling the devil."
Thus, since most of the settlers who came to America probably had known some form of thanksgiving day in their homelands, it is not surprising that they transplanted this custom to the New World.
Celebrations: The Comprehensive Book of American Holidays, by Robert J. Myers, 1972, pages 271-272, tells us:
"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. It seems that wherever man has tilled the soil and urged his crops into fruition, he has paid homage to the heavenly being who has permitted him such good fortune. And he has taken care by means of sacrifices to ensure the continued beneficence of the Supreme Power.
"The harvest festival, with its attendant rites, seems to have spread out from a relatively small area of land, from Egypt and Syria and Meso-potamia. The first or the last sheaf of wheat was offered to the "GREAT MOTHER", or the "Mother of the Wheat" for the earth-power was essentially a feminine force. Astarte 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; Ceres, the Roman goddess of corn, presided over the October Cerelia."
The Harvest Festivals
Our Wonderful World, by GROLIER Incorporated, New York, 1966, Volume 17, page 220, tells us of the Harvest Festivals --
"We often think of Thanksgiving as an American holiday, begun by the Pilgrims in Plymouth in 1621. At that time, so the story runs, the survivors among the Mayflower passengers celebrated their first harvest in the New World. Actually a thanksgiving for the annual harvest is one of the oldest holidays known to mankind, though celebrated on different dates. In Chaldea, in ancient Egypt, and in Greece, the harvest festival was celebrated with great rejoicing. The Hindus and the Chinese observe the completed harvest with a holiday. And the Jews celebrate the gathering of the crops."
From Holidays Around the World, by Joseph Gaer, by permission of Little, Brown & Co. Copyright, 1953, by Joseph Gaer. Revised by editor,1959, we read the following:
"The Romans celebrated their Thanksgiving early in October. The holiday was dedicated to the goddess of the harvest, Ceres, and the holiday was called Cerelia. (That is where the word "cereal" comes from).
From Rome To the New World
"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 long after the Roman Empire had disappeared.
"In England the "harvest home" has been observed continuously for centuries. The custom was to select a HARVEST QUEEN for this holiday. She was decorated with the grain of their fields and the fruit of their trees. On THANKSGIVING DAY she was paraded through the streets in a carriage drawn by white horses. This was a remnant of the Roman ceremonies in honor of Ceres. But the English no longer thought of Ceres or cared much about her. They went to church on this day and sang their Thanksgiving songs.
"The Pilgrims also introduced the custom of eating turkey on Thanksgiving Day, for they found wild turkeys in great numbers.
"The merriment of the harvest festivals is older than recorded human history. And the merriment of the harvest holiday is likely to continue, the world over, as long as men obtain their food from the earth."
Pagan men and women offered up sacrifices and prayers to the mysterious forces of the Mystery Religion, which they believed controlled the workings of nature on their behalf. Their hope in offering this worship was to ward off catastrophe, to ensure fine hunting, to obtain bountiful harvests, and to live again beyond the grave.
The MYSTERY WORSHIP was set in the CYCLE OF SUN WORSHIP. In the SPRING of the year, man sought fertility for himself and for his land. Bountiful crops would assure food for himself and his household. It was during this springtime of the year, at the Vernal Equinox, that the goddess he worshiped was fertilized by the god he worshiped.
In the summer of the year, the hot, arid land he lived upon became brown and barren. At this summertime, directly on the Summer Solstice, Proserpina-Persephone went into the underworld to remain until the time for vegetation to begin growing in the fall of the year.
At the autumn of this yearly cycle the sun started dying. The days grew shorter as the nights grew longer. At the fall of the year, directly on the Autumn Equinox, the goddess he worshiped began to weep for the lost (or murdered in other mythologies) goddess (or god).
At the Winter Solstice the sun started to come back to life as the days started growing longer and the nights shorter. Life would be assured for another year. The goddess who had been fertilized at the previous Vernal Equinox gave birth to a son at the Winter Solstice. The god had been reborn.
Such was the cycle of the PRIMITIVE FERTILITY RELIGIONS portrayed through CUTE STORIES which EFFECTIVELY HID the VILE, HIDEOUS meaning behind them.
Thanksgiving Day worship is merely the ancient fertility rites veneered with the respectability of Christianity. However, THE FACT STILL REMAINS, that IT IS ANCIENT FERTILITY WORSHIP. The Apostle Paul tells us of the gods, and the sacrifices to these gods, in I Corinthians 10:19-22 --
"19 What am I saying, then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?
20 But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.
21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord [YEHOVAH] and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's [YEHOVAH's] table and of the table of demons.
22 Do we provoke the Lord [YEHOVAH] to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?"
The Apostle Paul has told us emphatically that the things the Gentiles sacrifice are sacrificed to the demons, and we are NOT to have any fellowship with this DEMON worship. Romans 12:2 --
"And do not be conformed to [the pattern of] this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may [be able to test and] prove what is the righteous, and acceptable, and perfect will of God [YEHOVAH]."
James 1:27 --
"Pure and undefiled religion before God [YEHOVAH] our Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."
And YEHOVAH's people do not defile themselves with the holidays of this world!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Proclaiming the Good News of the Soon-Coming Kingdom of YEHOVAH God On This Earth!
Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 2186
Temple City, CA 91780, U.S.A.