Thanksgiving
and Harvest Festivals

The celebration of a bountiful Fall harvest (as well as other, more religious events) is thousands of years old:

  • the Egyptians celebrated a harvest festival in honor of Min, their god of vegetation and fertility. The festival was held in the springtime, their harvest season.
  • the Romans celebrated a harvest festival called Cerelia, honouring Ceres (from which the word cereal comes).
    Cerelia is their goddess of corn and the festival was held each year on October 4th.
  • the Chinese celebrated their harvest festival, Chung Ch'ui, on the 15th day of the 8th month.
  • the Greeks celebrated their goddess of corn Demeter at the festival of Thesmosphoria held each autumn.
  • the Jews have, for over 3000 years, celebrated a harvest festival each Autumn called Sukkoth.
  • In South India, Pongal is a four day festival in January, celebrating (for over 1000 years) the forthcoming harvest season and the start of the Tamil New Year.
  • In North India (Punjab region), the Vaisakhi/Baisakhi festival gives thanks for a good harvest and is celebrated in mid-April.
  • England celebrates the Harvest Home festival in late September.
  • Canada, reflecting the Fall celebrations held in Europe, celebrated its first Thanksgiving in 1578 when the English navigator Martin Frobisher (landing in what is now Newfoundland) celebrated his good fortune to still be alive  
    It's celebrated the second Monday in October.
  • the U.S. celebrates, in November, their first Thanksgiving of 1621, when, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim's fall harvest was plentiful due primarily to the help of the Wampanoag Indians.
    It's celebrated the fourth Thursday in November.