Sean posted this on Hellenion_Chat and I thought it was an excellent way to reflect on the modern custom of celebrating Thanksgiving:
So, even though Thanksgiving in modern times is an American and
Canadian holiday, the spirit of the holiday is present in many other
cultures. I have only found one in Hellenic faith that seems to fit
(below)… does anyone have any others?
Apaturia (Greek: ὰπατούρια) were Ancient Greek festivals held annually
by all the Ionian towns, except Ephesus and Colophon (Herodotus i.
147). At Athens it took place on the 11th, 12th and 13th days of the
month Pyanepsion (mid-October to mid-November), on which occasion the
various phratries, or clans, of Attica met to discuss their affairs.
The name is a slightly modified form of ὰπατόρια = ὰμαπατόρια,
ὁμοπατόρια, the festival of “common relationship”. The ancient
etymology associated it with ἀπάτη (“deceit”), a legend claiming that
the festival originated in 1100 B.C. as a commemoration of a single
combat between a certain Melanthus, representing King Thymoetes of
Attica, and King Xanthus of Boeotia, in which Melanthus successfully
threw his adversary off his guard by crying that a man in a black goat
skin (identified with Dionysus) was helping him (Schol. Aristophanes,
Acharnians, 146). On the first day of the festival, called Dorpia or
Dorpeia (Δορπεία), banquets were held towards evening at the
meeting-place of the phratries or in the private houses of members. On
the second, Anarrhysis (from ὰναρρύειν, “to draw back the victim’s
head”), a sacrifice of oxen was offered at the public cost to Zeus
Phratrius and Athena. On the third day, Kureōtis (κουρεῶτις), children
born since the last festival were presented by their fathers or
guardians to the assembled phratores, and, after an oath had been
taken as to their legitimacy and the sacrifice of a goat or a sheep,
their names were inscribed in the register. The name κουρεῶτις is
derived either from κοῦρος, “young man”, i.e., the day of the young,
or less probably from κείρω, “to shear”, because on this occasion
young people cut their hair and offered it to the gods. The
sacrificial animal was called μείον. The children who entered puberty
also made offerings of wine to Hercules. On this day also it was the
custom for boys still at school to declaim pieces of poetry, and to
receive prizes (Plato, Timaeus, 21 B). According to Hesychius, these
three days of the festival were followed by a fourth, called ἐπίβδα,
but this is merely a general term for the day after any festival.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the
Cycles of Love on Thanksgiving Image by controltheweb via Flickr
Now, what I’m wondering, is how one can integrate these ancient traditions into the modern practice of celebrating Thanksgiving. Would this mean holding Thanksgiving no later than the second week of November for example?
The general consensus seems to be that since Apaturia took place at any given time over a month, that pushing the celebration to the modern date of Thanksgiving would not be in conflict.
I also liked the idea, which I heard from the Hellenion_Chat list, that there are patron gods over Thanksgiving and it is an appropriate time to sacrifice the first portion of the feast to Them, and aknowledge their blessings with thanks. These would be: Hestia for the warmth of her hearth, Artemis for the sacrifice of the meat, Demeter for the bounty of her grains, and lastly Hestia once more for the fires that make possible the small sacrifice I give as first-portion to the gods.