Sacrifice & Gratitude, a pagan’s critical look at modern Thanksgiving is the latest Old Ways for Modern Days podcast episode and it’s now available for your listening pleasure.
The Real Thanksgiving
At the heart of the deep and ancient roots of “Thanksgiving” lies the harvest. There are many cultural celebrations spanning history and the world which honor the gifts of the season with sacrifice/offerings, gratitude and the exchange of gifts between the human and spirit worlds.
“Thanksgiving” is a modern construct celebrated on an arbitrary date. In fact there are several different events in various locations which claim to be the first official “Thanksgiving” and yet, many other “Thanksgivings” also took place in American history – some were even fasts instead of feasts.
Therefore, Thanksgiving doesn’t need to be celebrated in the manner in which many of us are used to.
If we remove the supposed historical events from the equation, we are left with the more ancient celebration of the harvest, which I argue is still worth celebrating.
Blōtmōnaþ, Blood Sacrifice Month
An entry in the Poetical Calendar Of The Anglo-Saxons, called the Menologium seu Calendarium Poeticum, explains :
This month is called Novembris in Latin, and in our language the month of sacrifice, because our forefathers, when they were heathens, always sacrificed in this month, that is, that they took and devoted to their idols the cattle which they wished to offer. In this month that the cattle which were to be slaughtered were dedicated to the gods.
These ceremonies were how the people in many pre-Christian northern European cultures expressed their gratitude for the many blessings and gifts they received as part of reciprocal relationship with the Old Powers. This reciprocal relationship was a cornerstone of how our Ancestors lived their lives and made decisions, both daily and situationally.
In the episode we explore the partnership between seeming opposites— sacrifice & gratitude. I hope you’ll have an open-hearted listen as I attempt to untangle a century(+) of historical inaccuracies weaved in with my family’s multiple immigration stories & the complications of assimilation into American dominant culture.
Celebrate the Harvest Instead of Thanksgiving
Many of our Ancestors, no matter their origin, celebrated the harvest. We can and should restore our Ancestral traditions. We do not have to let our ancient harvest rites and celebrations be coopted by a modern construct based on faulty whitewashed history.
In fact, we need to demand it back because the modern “Thanksgiving” storyline is damaging, hurtful and truly unnecessary – even from a historical perspective it doesn’t hold water. So this is the perfect time to rethink and reimagine this holiday in a way that honors our Ancestors while being respectful to all people who live on what is known to indigenous people as Turtle Island.
In the November Seasonal Guide: Sacrifice & Gratitude we explore many modern harvest festivals, that are not Thanksgiving and how they are still celebrated today in various countries. I recommend that we look to their rituals for inspiration on how to celebrate a truly ancient practice.
?Why I started creating monthly guides
?The practices our Ancestors engaged in are hyper regional (even within the same borders of country or region) & seasonal – & not based in a calendar date (in most cases)
?The importance of Blót or Sacrifice month to pre-Christian northern European cultures
?Sacrifice, Offerings & Gratitude – our connection through blood
?Harvest Festivals are at the root of modern Thanksgiving
?The real history of Thanksgiving (has nothing to do with Pilgrims)
?The origin of the Cornucopia
? Day of Mourning
? A personal story about what & how my family celebrates