17th May 09:30
Thanksgiving day and traditions (traditions feast case don)
This Thursday was Thanksgiving Day in the US. Both it and Canadian
Thanksgiving ( a Monday in October ) seem to have largely escaped
the commercialism of other holidays. This may solely be because
of the proximity of Christmas and I saw on TV that the day after
is a huge shopping days. ( crowds..groan ) However as a harvest
feast day and family gathering it may serve some of the purposes
that Samhain served for the Celts in Ireland (and elsewhere with
I was wondering if anyone has any family traditions they might
want to share. If you also knew how the tradition developed
and what purpose (?) seemed to keep it going that would be good.
And yes if any one in Europe or Australia etc. has a thought,
without a "Thanksgiving Day", do tell.
The very simple thing I was thinking of, was the Thanksgiving
table centerpiece. With my Grandmother, it was a large mound
of fruit. I don't think she had a wicker type horn, more a
large fruit bowl with the fruit spilling out of and surrounding
it. She had to shoo people away to keep them from taking some
of the g****s. She hated ***** g**** stems. Now the fruit
symbolized the harvest and plenty and hope for the future. I
don't think you can say it made us appreciate the preciousness
of food but I heard a case of the opposite on the radio. A man
had a young man to his house and pointed out a row of green beans.
The youth looked confused - "Beans?" The man picked some and
showed him, still puzzlement. The youth only recocgnized them
when he took the ends off and broke them in pieces. Yikes. I
don't think having fruit on the table made us appreciate the
labour of producing a harvest, I think it was more that my
grandfather always had a large garden. We knew what beans looked
like because we picked them.
For our family, a twist on the centre piece was that we added
seasonal leaves or vegetation. That meant that we developed a
tradition of going on a walk that day. We might walk on other
days but that outing seemed special. As we looked for the leaves
or grasses we appreciated the land that contained it.
17th May 09:30
Thanksgiving day and traditions (traditions religion feast order mass)
Hmmm.....I guess I think Thanksgiving *has* been commercialized down here in
the US, what with all those kitschy cute Pilgrim & Indian & turkey
decorations & that whole silliness of the president "pardoning" the turkey
(whatever *that's* supposed to signify.....). And kids are still being
taught this happy story of how the sweet, noble Pilgrims were driven out of
England & had to make this dangerous journey to America in order to be free
to practice their religion, where they made friends with the Indians because
they were such kind Christians & so of course invited them to a feast to
celebrate the success of their new home.
It's definitely (at least IMO) a human trait to want to pause & review the
past months or year every so often, however, I find myself doing this
several times during the year, not just once. On Yule, I try to get up &
catch the first rays of the sun & while I'm waiting I'm usually reflecting
on what has happened since I did this last. Memorial Day weekend is also
important for my personal cycle, not because of the holiday but because I'm
always camping in a valley of live oaks that I have a nearly 20-year
relationship with & there's a cycle that invariably finishes & restarts at
that time. Samhain tends to be devoted to the ancestors & friends who have
recently died--several years ago I started putting out candles on my balcony
rail for everyone I could think of. It makes for quite a blaze in the
I do think thankfulness for the food we eat comes more easily when we
actually grow/harvest that food. There's such a disconnect between us &
that shrink-wrapped frozen turkey, the dressing that comes out of a box, the
instant mashed potatoes & instant gravy, the canned green beans with the
canned fried onion topping & the mass-produced grocery store pumpkin pie
with artificial whipped topping, yet this is what comprises most peoples'
Thanksgiving dinner. Which is not to say you can't appreciate anything
unless you raise, slaughter & pluck that turkey & grow all those
potatoes/beans/pumpkins, etc. Yet even having one little herb plant like
thyme or parsley & making a point of using it in your cooking & appreciating
the plant's gift when you do can make a lot of difference in perception.
It's a place where anybody can start.
Anyway, my 2 cents.....
17th May 09:31
Thanksgiving day and traditions (traditions history birth sense burial)
In the past (about 50 years ago), Thanksgiving was a time when my
family (aunts, uncles, cousins) all gathered at my grandparents house
in southern Ge****a to share a meal. The centerpiece for the meal was
just as likely to be a large roasted chicken as it was a turkey. If it
was a turkey, then that may well have been the only thing besides the
cranberry sauce that had been purchased at the grocery store. My
family all lived within 20 miles of where the dinner was held (with
the exception of those in the service and my uncle's family in L.A.).
My grandfather had a 2 acre garden where corn, greens, potatoes greens
and peas were planted, grown and picked/harvested. There were also
pecan trees, pear trees, fig trees and an apple tree). The role of the
Indians rescuing the Pilgrims was emphasized (since the Pilgrims were
Yankees :-). What I remember most was the hierarchy of the women in
the kitchen and the men discussing politics on the porch. After the
meal (and putting it away), everyone would talk about family history.
If we were feeling really energetic, there would be a "crab apple war"
(men and boys mostly).
I recently watched the movie "Cold Mountain" which took me back to
that time of living close to the land and to family. The "War" we all
discussed was the same war, even though there had been two major wars
and several smaller ones in the 90 years in between. That "War" had
been a war in our backyards and among our people's homes whereas those
"other wars" had been far away and much easier to put in a box (though
my oldest uncle died in WWII returning to Britain after a bombing run
over Germany). There's a kind of balance and thankfulness that one
gets when it's the blood, sweat and care of family that keeps one
free, places food on the table and even builds the house that one
The difference between how the animals were raised and killed for
meals is also worlds apart. One can see a sort of balance between
caring and feeding meat that is to be eaten and getting meet that
comes from basically a machine culture. There's regret but necessity
in one and merely convenience in the other. One can be thankful that
one lives through the death and sacrifice of others (human, plant and
animal) when the land and family are close. How is one thankful in the
modern world if not to the machine, money and the all-mighty
corporation? In the past,I seem to recall that most of the men were
thankful to "the Man Upstairs" whereas the women always called him
"the Good Lord."
There's much that is lost when the cycles of death, burial, birth,
life and family no longer include a sense of cycle, community and
accountable behavior. It's all in a package nowadays that came out of
a machine. Maybe a part of one's education should include a visit to a
machine farm, a slaughter-house, a canning factory, an industrial
kitchen, a shipping company, a bank and a an agricultural insectin
station? Conversely, maybe the same people should also visit a small
family farm to balance the differences?
17th May 09:31
Thanksgiving day and traditions (traditions friend area year life)
Searles O'Dubhain (email@example.com) writes:
Well, I have a friend who always says he doesn't want his meat to
look like an animal. On the other hand, I'm quite carnivarous by nature
and do like to gnaw on bones etc. It's not as convenient but I think
as an exercise to educate children, or oneself, one could sometimes
buy whole chickens or even a whole lamb. Then use the organs, meats
and bones in differant dishes. This would help to see the meat as
a life and not see it as shrink wrapped extruded product.
For sure. We've gotten into a habit every year near Canadian
Thanksgiving of driving out to an area of market gardens and
picking up a supply of carrot, beets, winter squashes and
pumpkins for Halloween. This year when we got there the family
were sitting around sorting and bagging carrots. If you can
afford it, there are some options for range chickens and eggs
from layers that aren't caged. Hey, if you have a deep freeze
or can rent a meat locker you can sometimes get a side of beef
direct from a farmer. Bypass those feedlots that are not good
for the environment. I don't get to farmer's markets as
often as I should. Part of it is a matter of training yourself.
I don't have any small children ( or large ones ) so I have time
to prepare several fresh vegetables, try new dishes etc. Not
everyone has the time but part of it is discipline and self
training which are qualities a Druid would need.