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The Villages
Friday, November 18, 2022

The Pilgrims get credit for Thanksgiving

Barry Evans
Barry Evans

Thanksgiving is on its merry way.  We have some stuff in today’s world for which we undoubtedly are not thankful.  However, it is a good holiday so we should keep our chin up and celebrate the day.  True, after we do eat the turkey, pumpkin pie etc. we may have more than one chin.  The point, however, is to celebrate what is good in life and more importantly what could be even better. Perhaps, to get everyone in a cheery mood, a little history of Thanksgiving might be in order. After all, the more we read, the less time there is to get depressed by watching the news on TV.

Thanksgiving is a good old holiday, as we all know.  There does seem to be some question as to who had the first one.  It may be that the Pilgrims were latecomers.  The ancient Greeks had a Thanksgiving called Thesmosphoria that was to honor their Goddess of Corn, Demeter.  That one soon died out however as no one could pronounce it. (It is even worse in Greek).  The Romans had Cerelia, which honored their Goddess of Corn, Ceres.  You will not be amazed to know that from Ceres came our word for cereal.  You can blame her for leading us into the sugar coated cereals of the world.

The Chinese celebrated Chung Ch’ui, which I guess is sort of a moon thing, by baking cakes (not moon pies) on which they put the picture of a rabbit.  Since as we all know, the Chinese have their own perspective on things, they saw a rabbit and not a man like us. (They do say that the rabbit was not Bugs Bunny!)  Finally to finish our ancient history the Egyptians honored their god, Min who was in charge of vegetables and fertility (quite a range for one mid-level god – and a male one at that).  In any case they had parades (no clowns) and parties in their town square and everyone got zonked.  Once they got clear headed again they would go out to the fields and cry.  This was to deceive the spirit who lived in the corn as they figured that he would be ticked off when they cut down the crop. (He probably was!)

In this country there is an argument developing about who really had the first Thanksgiving.  Obviously, the Pilgrims have the best name recognition, but some say that St. Augustine had one before the Pilgrims were a gleam in their ancestors’ eyes.  I expect to see the next claim come out of Pensacola, which had settlers before St. Augustine.  Unfortunately, those settlers decided to go ashore and wait to unload their ships the next day.  That night a hurricane came roaring through and sank every ship but one.  By the time that ship came back with help, the survivors were in no shape to celebrate anything.  So they all left and gave vacations in Florida a bad name for many years.

Despite all the above, the fact is that the Pilgrims’ public relation machine has caused everyone to give them credit for Thanksgiving.  It matters not who gets credit in my opinion.  Let’s just do it!  The Blonde in the house and I hope that everyone ends up by having a great Thanksgiving.

Barry Evans is a columnist for Villages-News.com

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