Thanksgiving is a major festival in US and the neighbouring countries. The celebrations are set on the fourth Thursday of November when family and friends sit together for meals, and thank for all that they have. So what are the origins of this day?
Not much is known except that on this day, the Pilgrims of Plymouth, which is in the modern-day
, had their first dinner with the native Wampanoag Indians, way back in 1621. What was so special about the dinner? Massachusetts
The legend goes that the Pilgrims who were new to the place were struggling to settle and first harsh winter saw some deaths and they were left with little food with them. The people were not ready or prepared for the harsh conditions and all they brought with them, seeds, etc. were not conducive for the region. It was then that Squanto, a native Wampanoag Indian, who taught the Pilgrims the art of planting and growing grains and seeds in the land which was rugged. Squanto is even supposed to have given them seeds, besides teaching them how to sow and harvest. The first harvest was cause for celebration, and the Pilgrims hosted a feast for Squanto and his tribe as a thanks giving feast. Similarly, the next year was a bigger and better harvest, leading to another big feast, and thus started the Thanksgiving feast. However, it took many more years for it to be declared a national holiday in US.
So the origin of Thanksgiving was a Harvest festival. Over time, it has earned different connotations to the festival. Earlier people sat together on this day to thank god for the bountiful harvest that they would have reaped, and today, they sit together and thank all for all that they have.
Thanksgiving has an association with the Greek Mythology, that of the Horn of Cornucopia or the Horn of Plenty. This is a part of all Thanksgiving feasts and is a horn shaped container, filled with goodies. The traditional cornucopia was a goat’s horn filled to the brim with fruits and grains, which is part of the harvest.
According to the Greek Mythology, Zeus was brought up by Amaltheia, a goat who suckled the baby Zeus in a cave, while he was in hiding till he was ready to come out in public. Once when baby Zeus was playing with Amaltheia, he broke one of her horns by accident. Zeus felt very sorry for doing this and returned the horn but with magical powers that he had, and it is said that whosoever had the magical horn would get all that s/he wished. The cornucopia is also a symbol of fertility, a sign of abundance bounty.
Finally, no mention of Thanksgiving is complete without a mention of the
. On this day, having a turkey for the feast is a must. Why a turkey, well we will keep it for another day! Turkey