Harvest, Thanksgiving and Our Guiding Light
By Raymond Shipley
During autumn the days become shorter and the nights longer. After the long year of sowing it is now time to harvest and enjoy the fruits of one's labours. It is the time of Harvest and Thanksgiving in the Western world, and despite such thanks being given in honour of God for the many gifts of life, it is still celebrated by even the most secular of families.
Thanksgiving, as practiced in the United States, is said to have its roots in English traditions that date from the Protestant Reformation; however, the true roots of this holiday are far older, dating back to pagan Europe and the harvest festivals held since the beginning of history. The continuation of such ancient celebrations maintains and strengthens the folk roots of family to ancestors, and should be treated with reverence.
In addition to simply carving the turkey and eating stuffing, other aspects of this holiday should be incorporated. Prayers of thanks should be given, songs should be sung, and it is always special to incorporate other, older traditions. One such tradition is the harvest wreath. Parents should take their children to gather straw for the harvest wreath, which will be shaped and decorated with red apples and other fruits near a plate holding bread and salt, and in the presence of the family Tree of Life. Solidifying our connection to God, the Earth and our ancestors will help provide deep, unshakable roots for our families and children.
November is also a time to remember the dearly departed. Because life is sacred, birth and death are treated with due respect and if possible the graves of our loved ones should be visited. Pictures of our lost family members should be openly displayed, and the stories of their lives should be told so that each subsequent generation maintains the connection to our ancestors. Lighting the family lamp also signifies the light of God and our loved ones who will forever be present.
Our families and traditions are what define and guide us, and the wisdom of our ancestors passed down through the generations should not end with us. Our childhood memories are coloured with the precious moments spent together as a family, and our duty is to ensure this guiding light is never extinguished.