Halloween is over and Thanksgiving has just past. Christmas is still to come but only just around the corner. Since working in retail, especially around this time, I’ve become less excited about this particular holiday. I don’t like what can happen when greed and madness for the cheapest priced items get brought out.
There’s a lot of dispute over the actual events of Thanksgiving and Christmas as far as what actually transpired vs. what we’ve been told in school. So below is a little history that I’ve found while surfing the net on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Also so it’s not left out, I’ll prologue with a brief history on Halloween with additional links for more info and other blogs about these holidays.
Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows’ Evening also known as Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve.
The Celtic people of Europe and Britain were pagan Druids whose major celebrations were marked by the seasons.The pagan Samhain festival (pronounced “sow” “en”) celebrated the final harvest, death, and the onset of winter, for three days–October 31 to November 2.
Live Science blog – History of Halloween
Let’s continue forward with Thanksgiving and Christmas now…
As taught in school, the history of Thanksgiving began when Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered together to celebrate a successful harvest. However, it’s stated that the first Thanksgiving was held in the fall of 1621, sometime between September 21 and November 11, and was a three-day feast. The Pilgrims were joined by approximately 90 of the local Wampanoag tribe, including Chief Massasoit, in celebration. This is where it gets a little heated, with the Pilgrims then giving the tribe smallpox and slaughtering their people and taking their land etc. We’re sort of told the one side history class and gloss over the other side.
Something I did not know or may have forgotten is that the actual concept of Thanksgiving is owed to a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale. She had spent about 40 year advocating for such a day of thanks and finally in the years leading up to the Civil War, Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation and declared the last Thursday of November to be a day of thanksgiving and praise. An interesting note here about this day was that years later FDR changed Lincoln’s official day from the last Thursday to the third Thursday. This was done to appease businesses who wanted to extend the potential Christmas shopping days from then until the big day. This also created a lot of confusion and made no real difference in consumer spending. Thus on December 26, 1941, Congress passed a law declaring that Thanksgiving would occur every year on the fourth Thursday of November.
Now the celebration of Christmas feels even more complicated and a confusing matter of facts. Most religious celebrators do so in honor of the birth of our Christ Jesus but there is debate about the actual time frame of his birth. It is speculated that Jesus’ birthday fell sometime in the fall rather than in the winter time.
What is known is that Christmas was first celebrated because this was the date that the Romans historically celebrated the winter solstice. This celebration was about dies natalis solis invicti: the day of the birth of the unconquerable sun, which took place on December 22nd. The winter solstice held the promise of the return of springtime and earthly renewal. In Roman history, this was the time of Saturnalia, honoring the God of Agriculture, for the week before the solstice, and Juvenalia, a feast in honor of the children of Rome, around the same time. On the 25th of the month they celebrated the birth of the sun-god Mithra. Masters and servants traded places temporarily, and everybody had a good time.
It’s interesting to look back on some of the tradition our cultures have come to celebrate. This usually involves getting and decorating a tree, staging kisses underneath the mistletoe, and gift giving/ receiving. This could also include favorite dinners, classic movies and stocking hanging on the mantle.
I find the history of things like tradition and celebrations interesting and fascinating. It’s curious to see how things are done today vs. in the past when discoveries were just being made. Whatever the case may be I find it’s nice to take time to celebrate being thankful and happy with those you care about and take time off work to enjoy all that you have worked hard for. This may include cooking and eating or watching the football games. It is a shame that it’s so short lived and often out shined by consumerism and the craziness of black Friday.
I like celebrating each season in different ways and often with different people. I’ve gone home, I’ve stayed in my current location, and I’ve visited friends and their families. I’ve volunteer for those less fortunate or in serious medical situations and could not otherwise celebrate in the way the wish to. Some years I celebrated holidays from other cultures and religions. These past couple years have been really fun spending Thanksgiving with my significant other and her family. This holiday is rising to become one of my favorites.
How do you celebrate the holidays? Are there any traditions you and/or your family have?