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French-American Center Newsletter

The History of Thanksgiving and its Celebrations

Throughout history mankind has celebrated the bountiful harvest with thanksgiving ceremonies.

Thanksgiving

Before the establishment of formal religions many ancient farmers believed that their crops contained spirits which caused the crops to grow and die. Many believed that these spirits would be released when the crops were harvested and they had to be destroyed or they would take revenge on the farmers who harvested them. Some of the harvest festivals celebrated the defeat of these spirits.Harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations were held by the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Hebrews, the Chinese, and the Egyptians.

The ancient Greeks worshipped many gods and goddesses. Their goddess of corn (actually all grains) was Demeter who was honored at the festival of Thesmosphoria held each autumn. On the first day of the festival married women (possibility connecting childbearing and the raising of crops) would build leafy shelters and furnish them with couches made with plants. On the second day they fasted. On the third day a feast was held and offerings to the goddess Demeter were made - gifts of seed corn, cakes, fruit, and pigs. It was hoped that Demeter's gratitude would grant them a good harvest.

The Romans also celebrated a harvest festival called Cerelia, which honored Ceres their goddess of corn (from which the word cereal comes). The festival was held each year on October 4th and offerings of the first fruits of the harvest and pigs were offered to Ceres. Their celebration included music, parades, games and sports and a thanksgiving feast.

The ancient Chinese celebrated their harvest festival, Chung Ch'ui, with the full moon that fell on the 15th day of the 8th month. This day was considered the birthday of the moon and special "moon cakes", round and yellow like the moon, would be baked. Each cake was stamped with the picture of a rabbit - as it was a rabbit, not a man, which the Chinese saw on the face of the moon.The families ate a thanksgiving meal and feasted on roasted pig, harvested fruits and the "moon cakes". It was believed that during the 3 day festival flowers would fall from the moon and those who saw them would be rewarded with good fortune.

Jewish families also celebrate a harvest festival called Sukkoth. Taking place each autumn, Sukkoth has been celebrated for over 3000 years.Sukkoth is named for the huts (succots) that Moses and the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land. These huts were made of branches and were easy to assemble, take apart, and carry as the Israelites wandered through the desert.

The ancient Egyptians celebrated their harvest festival in honor of Min, their god of vegetation and fertility. The festival was held in the springtime, the Egyptian's harvest season. The festival of Min featured a parade in which the Pharaoh took part. After the parade a great feast was held. Music, dancing, and sports were also part of the celebration.

When the Egyptian farmers harvested their corn, they wept and pretended to be grieficken. This was to deceive the spirit which they believed lived in the corn. They feared the spirit would become angry when the farmers cut down the corn where it lived.

The United States

In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim's fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. They found they had enough food to put away for the winter.

The Pilgrims had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.

The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

Canada

Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Observance of the day began in 1879.

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  • Jeudi 6 Juin 2019 à 18h
    Réunion d’information Day Camp Tour
    RDV au French American Center
    Réunion d’information Séjour Linguistique pour les ados.
  • Samedi 8 Juin 2019 à 10h
    English Pick Up
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  • Mercredi 19 Juin 2019 à 17h30
    Grease The Musical
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    Comédie Musicale présentez par les enfants du Kids School, en Anglais et en chanson!
  • Jeudi 4 Juillet 2019 à 19h30
    Picnic Potluck and 4th July Quiz
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  • Jeudi 19 Septembre 2019 à 19h
    Speed Talking Night
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    Venez nombreux à notre soirée de Bienvenue pour la rentrée 2019
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  • Vendredi 11 Octobre 2019 à 19h30
    Apéritif Party - Cheese and wine evening.
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    ❤ Réservation obligatoire ❤
  • Mercredi 23 Octobre 2019 de 12h30 à 13h45
    Workshop - Halloween Crafts Lunch.
    RDV au French American Center
    Ateliers et déjeuner créatifs pour préparer Halloween
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  • Jeudi 31 Octobre 2019 à 18h30
    Fête Kids’ Halloween Party.
    RDV au French American Center
    Frissons et fou-rires garantis pour vos enfants dans notre maison hantée!
    Déguisement obligatoire!
  • Mercredi 13 Novembre 2019 de 12h30 à 13h45
    Workshop - Thanksgiving Kids Lunch.
    RDV au French American Center
    Ateliers et déjeuner créatifs pour préparer Thanksgiving
    ❤ Réservation obligatoire ❤
  • Jeudi 28 Novembre 2019 à 19
    Fête – Thanksgiving
    Repas et jeux chez Bonobo Rue St Guillhem
    Venez célébrer Thanksgiving dans la pure tradition américaine!
    ❤ Réservation obligatoire ❤
  • Mercredi 11 Décembre 2019 de 12h30 à 13h45
    Workshop - Kids Christmas Lunch.
    RDV au French American Center
    Atelier et déjeuner. Vos enfants vont se transformer en petits lutins du père Noël !
  • Jeudi 19 Décembre 2019 à 19h30
    Fête - Christmas Party.
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    Venez fêter Noël en rires et en chansons au French American Center !
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