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Patti Wigington

Reader FAQ: Pagans and Thanksgiving

By November 25, 2013

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Turkey Day is coming up this week for our US readers, and so it's a good time to bring up the issue of Thanksgiving - a secular holiday, not a religious one - and why some Pagans opt not to celebrate it.

A reader writes in with an interesting dilemma. He says, "My family wants to have a big Thanksgiving celebration, but I don't want to participate. I object to this holiday as a protest of the treatment of Native Americans by my white ancestors. Any ideas on how I can survive Turkey Day and still hold true to my Pagan ideals?"

You know, there are certainly some people in the Pagan community, and not just Native Americans, who feel that the day everyone calls Thanksgiving should instead be a day of mourning rather than celebration. Personally, I've always thought Thanksgiving was a silly holiday anyway, because I'm thankful for stuff all year long, but that's just me. And in some families, really, you have to pick your battles. With the holidays approaching, it's a tricky balance to find indeed. Sometimes, the best you can hope for is to educate your family a little bit if it really means that much to you. However, it's important to keep in mind that Thanksgiving is a secular holiday and not a religious one - and also that there's no Big Pagan Mandate against it. If you personally object to it, then go with what your heart is telling you to do.

Here are some ideas on how you can deal with this dilemma: Pagans and Thanksgiving

Also, readers, chime in! Do any of you refuse to participate in Thanksgiving? Or should we all just sit down and eat our turkey, and save our protesting for another day? Chime in down in the Comments section, and tell us what you think.
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November 6, 2008 at 9:46 am
(1) Scolaí says:

I participate in the Thanksgiving Day ritual with my family out of respect for my family. For us, it’s not about observing or waxing nostalgic about Pilgrims and Indians, rather the holiday is an opportunity for the family to come together under one roof for a day of feasting and reconnecting.

Now, if someone wants to get into the whole Pilgrims and Indians, I’ll be glad to educate him/her on the real story of Thanksgiving, complete with the eventual Xian decimation and relocation of Native populations.

We can celebrate Thanksgiving as a family holiday, a final Harvest Feast, or as an excuse to have a day or two off – no Pilgrims and Indians required.

November 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm
(2) Heather says:

Scolai – I’d like to see what you would write out regarding the history of Thanksgiving. I think it might make an interesting read, and I’m always on the lookout for things like that.

And I agree – my family doesn’t discuss Pilgrims or Indians (even though we do have a touch of Native American ancestry – way back in the family tree). We use it as a day to get together to eat and spend time together. I think that’s the main focus of this secular holiday, and that it has been that way for generations. We use the images of Pilgrims just to give a symbol to the whole shebang, but other than that, most people don’t bother actually finding out the story behind said symbol. I’ll be doing some searching online and finding other explanations as well.

Education is a good thing – always :)

November 15, 2011 at 8:46 am
(3) Thistle Downe says:

Agreed…No one in my family as well has ever really discussed the dilemma and tragedy of the native Americans at the hands of the greedy puritanical immigrants/ancestors who took over this land from them. In my family, most of the talk is centered around each other, well, with the women anyway. The men usually are too stuck on heavy football debates! LOL

But indeed, it is more looked upon a time to gather together and celebrate each other and the family connection. Reconnecting with members who you rarely see, as well as those closer to you.

November 15, 2011 at 9:35 am
(4) kalorrah says:

I agree.. with adult life taking our children in so many different directions, its a nice time to reconnect with the family and have a meal and enjoy some time together..our time doesn’t center around history either..

November 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm
(5) Deb Percival says:

@Scolai: well said! I just look at the whole day as a day to get together with family members that you may only get to see on ‘holidays’…no biggie really…just family time

November 6, 2008 at 10:03 am
(6) Kendall says:

I can’t remember a Thanksgiving where pilgrims or Native Americans were even mentioned. I think most people celebrate it as a day to give thanks for what they have and to be with family. It’s one of the few times I have to be with my family as I don’t live near any of them. I’m also a vegetarian so the food definitely isn’t a big draw for me either, it’s all about getting to spend time with my family.

November 6, 2008 at 12:59 pm
(7) Vandreyer says:

I agree with the previous posters – I, too,never had any Pilgrim and Indian stuff around Thanksgiving except at school. My dad made the holiday crap by hating the whole season because a wife left him many many years ago and he never let go of it. Even through two more wives and 50 years of life. It should be time to just celebrate and be thankful for what we have here and now and the people we get to spend the day with. If you want to include honouring Native Americans there are tons of beautiful childrens’ books or movies you can share with your family. It would be better to stress the honour and leave the horrors for other times, though.

November 6, 2008 at 3:54 pm
(8) Leisl says:

To me, Thanksgiving is another opportunity to celebrate the harvest, to give thanks (thus it’s name!) for the bounty in my life, to spend time with our extended families … and to watch the Macey’s Parade (the only parade I like to watch), ushering the holiday season. I’m not a holiday exclusionist choosing some and avoiding the others. I love and embrace them all, regardless of what name anybody gives them, and celebrate each one with enthusiasm and love and gratitude (and lots of food).

November 6, 2008 at 4:11 pm
(9) Rowan says:

I was born and raised in a farming community. To my family and many others around us, Thanksgiving is and always has been a harvest celebration. What I was taught in school was that the pilgrims and native tribes celebrated together at the end of harvest time. After the slaughter and harvest were done, both peoples came together to celebrate a good year. It never had anything to do with the mistreatment of the native peoples by whites. It was a celebration of cooperation between these two races.

November 16, 2011 at 11:13 am
(10) Winter says:

Rowan what you and others where taught in school about Tday was a big fat lie. it was and still is a huge whitewashing of facts via the white race.

November 26, 2011 at 9:00 am
(11) Chris says:

I am a descendant of the MayFlower pilgrims and also have Native American blood in me. I did research and study about the first pilgrims. They only wrong they did towards the natives was that they found a mound of buried corn and stole it in order to keeo from starving. The natives found out and brought the pilgrims more corn and food. In William Bradford III’s diary he wrote that they did cohabitate and would not have survivied without the native’s help. All this talk of mistreatment came later on in history and began with the Spanish settlers. Yes, settlers mistreated natives in countless horrifying ways. But is was NOT the pilgrims or anything else to do with Thanksgivingday. Don’t jumble up hundreds of years worth of history into one blob of information. Check your timelines. Warring did not begin until generations later when the offspring of SOME pilgrims and other settlers got greedy.

November 6, 2008 at 4:15 pm
(12) Delondra says:

At its heart, Thanksgiving is simply a time to celebrate the harvest and our bonds with one another. Think of it as a time when you can enjoy a Pagan-like festival with family members you might not get to celebrate with usually!

November 16, 2011 at 2:38 am
(13) Danielle Shearer says:

“At its heart, Thanksgiving is simply a time to celebrate the harvest and our bonds with one another.” Well Said! thank you Delondra for finally giving me a reason to celebrate this holiday that I understand! I will try to light a candle if I can for the treatment of native Americans on that night as well. Being a part of a minority group myself because I was born physically disabled with some cognitive problems I know how it hurts when society treats you badly sometimes!

November 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm
(14) Haven says:

I agree with you completely Delondra! Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that I can agree on with the rest of my family. I celebrate it for what it is: a time to give thanks and enjoy the harvest.
If anyone feels the need to tell lies about the Pilgrims and Indians, I would not hesitate to inform them of the truth, but my family has never talked about them at Thanksgiving in all my life.

November 6, 2008 at 6:03 pm
(15) Kitty says:

I make it a harvest celebration as well. I’m like Leisl, I embrace them all and enjoy the festive air that the holidays give.
Blessed Be

November 6, 2008 at 7:30 pm
(16) beatrice says:

well, sometimes thanksgiving falls on the anniversary of my mothers death, and coming as the first holiday after samhain i continue the samhain theme.
i give thanks for those living and mark the passing of those that have gone before.
and those that think that thanksgiving day is the day that the NA and pilgrims feasted really need to read some history. its the day the indians saved the pilgrims collective butts! they(pilgrims) came to america thinking it would be spring and ready to plant, imagine how upset they were when they found out it was the start of winter?

November 14, 2011 at 8:34 pm
(17) Lynette Fox says:

Thank the goddess some one put it bluntly.

November 6, 2008 at 7:41 pm
(18) Kathy says:

The celebration that my family and I enjoy has nothing to do with what happened several hundred years ago. Sense the dawn of man, there has been wars, murder and humanity trying to rule humanity. I think before we can say “I dont like what it stands for Im not celebrating”, we need to look at history. Every single country and belief system has had its wars and man trying to rule man. Even the Pagans. Seems like all celebrations have there dark side if you really want to get into history.

November 15, 2011 at 4:57 pm
(19) Shannon says:

Now there’s the plain simple truth. War has been going on forever. My family gets together on Thanksgiving to celebrate love and togetherness. This is the only time all of us can get to the same place at the same time in year. It’s hard to get five generations of people from all over the country to settle at one time. Thankfully, there’s Thanksgiving!

November 7, 2008 at 11:47 am
(20) Solitaire says:

I agree with the previous posters. My husband is descended from Native Americans, and ironically I have often thought am descended from the Mayflower settlers. We celebrate where we are now not where we were. As with decsendants of slaves and slave owners we cannot change the past but learn from it to better the future. I have done my best to teach my daughter both sides of her heritage and be proud of what both sides of her heritage have accomplished. Because she is what I am most thankful for anyway.

November 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm
(21) dwella says:

Agreed.. Those who cant get beyond their past will never reach the future.

November 7, 2008 at 1:25 pm
(22) David says:

I agree with others. My partner and I host the family gathering and it’s a time to be together and enjoy everybody’s company. We have developed some traditions for the day including watching the Macy’s parade, and going to an event called the “Fantasy of Trees” where the proceeds go to support the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

November 8, 2008 at 6:02 pm
(23) Shelley says:

I have never looked at Thankgiving as a negitive thing, Yes it was so wrong what happened to the Indians. and for that I’m ashamed of my own race. But I look at Thankgiving as a time to be with your family and have treated it like an addition to Samhain, Let me Explain,….We are gathering to give thanks for the Harvest during this time of year and honor our loved ones that have crossed over. Thanksgiving is no different(except where the History books are concerned) But I see it as a time when we and the Indians lived together in peace befor all the wars began. They welcomed us to their land
and what followed was horrible and unforgivable. I wish things had played out differently between our races.I celebrate Thankgiving with my family also as time to prepare for Yule/Christmas. Most of my family
are Christian, and not pagan like me, but most are of an open mind and heart so we celebrate our holidays together with a mix of both spiritual paths. And it works out great.
I love it when two Spitual paths can unite together like that.
I only wish the rest of the world could follow.
I will be holding a special ritual Thanksgiving day in Honor of the Native American Indians and for what they sacrificed for this nation. Their Lives and Their Ways.

They must not be forgotten.
Blessed Be!

November 11, 2008 at 9:48 am
(24) Valentina says:

Coming from the Navajo reservation, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be about Europeans VS First Americans. How about just a nice chance to get together with loved ones that perhaps you cannot see at other times? No matter how many Thanksgivings you give up doesn’t change the past. How about doing something nice for your neighbor if you insist on feeling guilty.

November 16, 2011 at 8:30 am
(25) Ulliowl says:

Well said, Valentina. We cannot change the past but we can help those that need help now. besides being a time to get together with distant family it is a time to be thankful for what we have.
This year one of my daughters and her family are volunteering at the large community feed in Austin that is sponsored by the city. They and their friends are thankful that they have jobs and homes in a time when so many do not.

November 11, 2008 at 10:05 am
(26) Rain says:

I married into a cherokee family and they celebrate thanksgiving. Its one of the few events you cant really take a pass on. Everyone shows up and you get to enjoy each others company long enough to last you to Yule/Christmas. Yes what happened was horrible. You yourself are not responsible. Instead of focusing on sins of old why not respect your families wishes and try to turn it into a family event you can respect going to.

November 11, 2008 at 10:09 am
(27) Wynd says:

Thanksgiving is what you chose to make it. Did the Native Americans get a raw deal, you better believe it, they still do. But in reality, what does that have to do with present day celebration? To me, they are two separate issues. If you are thankful for your family, friends, and community…show them by sharing time and a meal. If you wish to be involved in advocacy for Native American groups, go for it. They can be two exclusive activities without connection, if you allow it. And if you still feel they need to be connected, offer up a loud verbal prayer for the spirits of the exploited.

November 11, 2008 at 10:11 am
(28) moonshadow says:

I guess I havent really looked at Thanksgiving as a time of being thankful. For the most part it was a day off of work, the family meeting at my brothers house and I dont have to cook. But then again I go and cook the same meal at my house so we can have the leftovers. For me it is just time away from work and being able to be with the ones I love. I honour the earth and she provided this food for me. May peace be with all. moonshadow

November 11, 2008 at 10:14 am
(29) firelion says:

Personally I see no problem in celebrating Thanksgiving. The holiday has turned into something different than what it use to be. Most people I know celebrate the holiday because it is a time to see reletives and eat until you cant breath, and also it is a great time to get together and discuss December holiday plans. So in short, I see no reason to not celebrate Thanksgiving because to most people the original meaning behind it is lost.

November 11, 2008 at 10:23 am
(30) Mary says:

I am of Native American decent ( both of my parents were what was known as “half breeds”)
We have always celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday for many of the same reasons the previous posters have mentioned. A time to come together as family, celebrate the harvest and be reminded to not take for granted the gifts we have been given in our lives. When our family would come together we got some of the best stories from the elders, memories I wouldn’t trade for anything. Most of those elders have passed to the spirit world and I now host this time with my family and my generation now passes the stories of our lives onto the younger group.

November 11, 2008 at 11:05 am
(31) Knevolyn says:

I usually use Columbus Day to help people remember the atrocities committed by European Americans upon the native population. Like most everyone else said, Thanksgiving in my family is more about just getting together and eating. This year, though, I’m thinking about blowing off my regular drill and spending it with my Coven family… my blood-kin, though I love them, are just SO far removed from my world… we have virtually nothing in common outside our DNA.

November 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm
(32) Debi says:

I’m with you, Knevolyn, I too, use Columbus Day to remember, publicly, the attrosities that happened to the American Indians. And I firmly believe ALL attrocities towards ALL humans needs to be remembered! But, having said that, I celebrate Thanxgiving with my family because they do not follow my path. I am the matron of this family now and to me it’s more important to set a good example to my grandkids especially when it comes to tradition. They know of my path but I don’t shove it down their throats. All they (including my grown children) know is that for years, we, and almost everybody else, celebrates that day in the spirit of Peace. I think for one day I can do that. Especially with people who mean more to me than anything else in this world……

November 11, 2008 at 11:15 am
(33) A says:

My Family is Mowhawk, we celebrate thanksgiving. Just a little differently.

We gather at an elders house, both sadly and happily this year it’s my fathers house. We use it as a time to prepare for the winter. The girls bustle around the house preparing all the food and the guys are ooutside, chopping wood and getting the amimals ready fixing the barns and what not.

Then at the end of the day we all sit down and feast until we bust! We have turkey and other foods that some maynot consider “thanksgiving foods” like corn soup, cornmeal mush, and a squirrel or 10 hehe.

That’s how it’s always been for us, for at least as long as I can remember anyway.

Thank you all for letting me share!


November 11, 2008 at 11:19 am
(34) art blundell says:

Oddly enough,some of the native americans practiced a “feast” during this same period of time.This was referred to as(in translation) “harvest time” This was held at the full of the moon, in the fall of the year. As there were no methods of preserving certian foods that were grown during the season, the last of the crops were eaten before they spoiled. This was also a period in which a number of marrages occurred.There were many other things that were attached to this time, but I will not elaborate on them here.
Suffice to say, as a native american I have no problems with the “Thanksgiving” feast. Allthough when My great grandfather was alive this lasted for three days and nights!
I do miss the drumming and dancing..
If you want to be upset over a “settler” holliday, some of us are a bit testy over Columbus day.

November 11, 2008 at 11:27 am
(35) Ogeon says:

I agree with the previous posters in that for me, Thanksgiving is a time for me to spend with my family. The last time I had even thought about Pilgrams was back in school so many years ago. My Great Grandfather was a full-blooded Cherokee, and he too celebrated Thanksgiving as a day of family and friends.
I certianly don’t approve of what the pilgrams did, but to me and my family, this day has never been about pilgrams anyway. I say take it and make it your own!
Brightest of Blessings!

November 11, 2008 at 11:53 am
(36) Greenman says:

I’m a descendent of both the Plymouth Pilgrims AND Native Americans. I’m sure I’m not alone. I’ve even felt guilty, in the past, about how my ancestors treated each other (neither side is totally guilty or innocent). I like Thanksgiving…it gives me a chance to celebrate with friends & family before the chaos of the December holidays.
On October 12th, instead of celebrating Columbus Day, I celebrate Dia de la Raza, the Day of the Race, the day the first Hispanic Americans were conceived, the day the beautiful Hispanic culture began.
I believe it is important to remember the evil perpetuated on Native Americans beginning with the first settlers and continuing to this day on our reservations and border with Mexico. Those memories should inspire us to action not just be a day to remember the past.

November 11, 2008 at 12:13 pm
(37) Pendragon says:

I look at Thanksgiving as a day to celebrate with friends and family . A day to replenish the bonds that tie us all together and to celebrate the harvest.

Blessed be to all my brothers and sisters at this time of year.

November 11, 2008 at 12:49 pm
(38) Dragua says:

Hmm, well a lot have said what I think. Also Thanksgiving is a good time of year (well November in general) because:
18:My Cousin’s Birthday
19: My Niece’s Birthday
25: Mine and my other Cousin’s Birthday
26: My Step-Grandma’s Birthday
And inevitably my birthday lands on Thanksgiving day every once in a while. Why not protest how the Native Americans were treated the days it actually happened instead? Why bear their besom for them? Why do you have to feel such resentment towards your people for what happened how many centuries ago? If I am wrong that you’re not of the Caucasian race, then forgive me. I know there are still some Natives somewhere that harbor bad feelings and bad blood about it all, but my question is Why? What good does it do you? Do you think it helps your blood pressure by bein angry about it? Do you think it helps your stress level when you dwell on it? Do you think that you’ll destroy others’ holiday? Sure they may feel bad you can’t join in, but chances are when the celebrating is going on, in the long run, they’ll still celebrate!
My general feeling on the mistreatment thing: GET OVER IT! It happend centuries ago, they’ve gotten compensation for it, they get to have casinos and take all the white people’s money, they also get to have eagle feathers, and peyote, and I can’t really think of anything else that they get to have that we can’t, but I think they do.

November 11, 2008 at 1:11 pm
(39) KiwiBrd89 says:

I always participate in Thanksgiving because for my family it is not about how horribly Native Americans were treated, it is about coming together as a family. I get to see relatives that I’m lucky to get in contact with more than once or twice in a year. I have fun helping cook and clean before everybody gets there.

Now before anyone jumps the gun about me forgetting all the travesties that befell the Native Americans, please know that I am Native American through both my parents and that I always push for Native American rights when those rights are being trampled upon. I simply don’t believe that negative connotations should win out because that is how negativity takes a firmer hold in ones life. I still celebrate coming together with my family on Thanksgiving and I always intend to.

November 11, 2008 at 1:40 pm
(40) Ashen Black says:

I’ve never really thought of Thanksgiving as all that much of a thankful holiday for the same reason that we should be thankful everyday. However, I have always looked forward to it for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and seeing family that I rarely get to see. But I do see the mourning side of it as well and think that the Native Americans should always be remembered.

November 11, 2008 at 2:01 pm
(41) Lori says:

I just recently learned the true story about Thanksgiving from a radio talk show. I am shocked how they teach our children in schools the false story. I did tell my daughter the true meaning of Thanksgiving. I also agree that we should choose our battles wisely. I look at that day as a time to get together with family that we do not see throughout the year. Is there any books available on the true story of Thanksgiving?

November 11, 2008 at 2:11 pm
(42) tasia says:

My grandparents survived countless hardships and many terrifying, life-threatening experiences in Europe before coming to the US. When they got here they maintained their Russian celebrations but added the American holiday of Thanksgiving to that annual cycle because they were so grateful to be here and have a chance at a safe, comfortable life.

My grandmother has been hosting this annual feast since 1950. She makes a turkey and mashed potatoes in a nod to the American tradition, but the rest of the food is heavily Russian-influenced. It’s one day out of only three in the whole year when everyone comes together, now that a lot of us have moved away.

To refuse to celebrate for any reason would be to dishonor my grandmother. She has been there for me in so many ways my whole life, she is like a living goddess to me. I gladly, gratefully and wholeheartedly participate in her Thanksgiving.

November 11, 2008 at 2:20 pm
(43) Tabitha says:

At our house Thanksgiving is a big buffet. That is about it. There are really no traditions or rituals we associate with this holiday, unless you count the family getting together.

November 11, 2008 at 2:20 pm
(44) jenia says:

like a pervious poster, i have a problem with Columbus day not thanksgiving day.
since tomorrow is the full moon, this is when the whole thankfulness will be a theme for our family. Delightfully it is also the day that the Thai people, as a whole community, send light and beauty down their river. Since we have a thai student living with us we will incorporate these time honored traditions with peace and love and thanksgiving!

November 11, 2008 at 2:54 pm
(45) Pattie says:

November is not a fun month for me. It’s a reminder of the fact that both my parents died right around Thanksgiving/their anniversary. I choose to celebrate Thanksgiving though because it is a time for me to be with the family I still have and all my friends who have become family to me. We have never mentioned Pilgrims or Indians even when I was a child. I see the holiday as being a celebration of family and friends, and I choose to surround myself with both that weekend.

November 11, 2008 at 3:00 pm
(46) breann says:

Usually before my family arrives, I say a word to honor the Native Americans who lost their lives for this so called day of celebration, but for me I take time every day to give thanks for my blessings

November 11, 2008 at 3:03 pm
(47) ageless says:

Ah, the pictures we paint are all but reality. It is truly sad and pathetic to know we are such hippocrites. I don’t celebrate Indian massacre day. It erks me to know that Indians gave the undeserving pilgrim jerks priceless gifts such as knowledge, food and shared their lands and bounty only to be rewarded with death.
Thanksgiving has always been pagan this was the Indian’s way of celebrating and giving their thanks to Mother Earth for her bountiful gifts of harvest from the closing season. (Harvest or Harvest solstice).

November 11, 2008 at 3:13 pm
(48) Allison says:

How disrespectful is everyone here?
I can’t believe that out of the mouths of fellow Pagans, they “poo poo” a holiday that is supposed to bring families together.
It has nothing to do with “Xians” (Christians, and what a terrible connotation that brings about when using that term. Shame on you all for using that!) and there isn’t a need to explain the background. Can’t you just enjoy being with your family?
This is why I remove myself from the Pagan community, because of STUPID comments such as this. Same goes with any other “holiday”; it’s just families coming together.
Please get over yourselves, if not for you then do it for your FAMILY!

November 11, 2008 at 3:15 pm
(49) Lynn says:

I never really have enjoyed Thanksgiving so I take my husband and kids away for a total reconnect time. We usually go down to Galveston, but don’t know if we will get to this year because of Hurricane Ike. But everyone is so busy now a days, so we reconnect, just me my husband and our two kids.

November 11, 2008 at 3:55 pm
(50) jan says:

This year for Thanksgiving, I am doing something totally different than usual. I am cooking and serving in a soup kitchen so the homeless and disadvantaged people can get together and enjoy a nice meal. I just got so bored with my families attitude regarding Thanksgiving. Its like everyone gets together and eats themselves into a stupor, then fall asleep in front of a football game on t.v. Then everyone gets up at the crack of dawn the next morning to fight the crowds at the mall to see who can get the best holiday bargains. It is all so extravagant and stupid. They are honoring no one. Its just another excuse for them to over indulge. This year I will be spending my time with people who may actually enjoy being alive and happy.

November 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm
(51) Nightraven says:

Jan, I think that is an awesome thing you are doing and so much more rewarding than eating slaughtered turkeys and stuffing oneself to the brim. I personally don’t like Thanksgiving or Christmas (though I do celebrate Yule) because of the commercialism and the stupidity that everyone feels they must follow what is supposedly societal norm. At one time I did enjoy holidays with my family, most of whom are in the Summerland now or estranged; and it is all a rather sad time for me too. I don’t like this time of year at all and just look forward to when the earth starts to come alive again at Imbolc.
Blessed Be

November 11, 2008 at 4:21 pm
(52) Qyzida MeadOwlArk says:

Thanksgiving holidays when I was growing up in a “christian” household basically consisted of families gathering to argue and stress out. What fun eh? NOT! I spent the majority of the time hiding up in the canyon above our house… even in the snow!!!

As an adult and a witch, I tried doing the “thanksgiving dinner thing” for the sake of family teadition, and it was a total disaster year after year.

I finally had had it when some members of the fam dictated who I could or could not invite because “they” didn’t like “them”. My non-pagan husband agreed with me that we would chuck ALL the family christain celebrations and do Pagan holidays only from now on.

THANK THE GODDESS!!!! My mother is a little confused why we have turkey dinners on Sept 21 for Mabon… but oh well!!! Viva la Craft!

Bright Blessings
Lady Q

November 11, 2008 at 6:06 pm
(53) paganwiccan says:

Lori(28) — if you click on the link above, it takes you to my main article on Pagans and Thanksgiving. There’s an awesome book mentioned in there called “1621,” which tells the story from the Native American perspective. It’s lovely, and was sponsored by the Plimoth Plantation historical society.


November 11, 2008 at 6:25 pm
(54) Kristina says:

For many families the holidays are the only time we all get together as a family. I am thankful for that time to share and learn and teach with my family members who are not pagan. I think so many of the old traditional holidays have taken on new more updated meanings. If you really are against it then don’t go, but you are potentially missing out on some important moments with family who you may never see again.

November 11, 2008 at 6:25 pm
(55) Shelia says:

Thanksgiving is for those who came across on the Mayflower. I just let them celebrate it, for at first they did have a lot to be thankful for. But then after a while they took over and murdered and stole from my people, I do have some Irish blood runnning through my vains, but Thanksgiving like Columbus Day is a very bad taste in the mouth for my ancestors and brothers and sisters of today. Just celebrate what “you” feel is right.
Dohyi (Walk In Peace) Oganali-i (My Friend)

November 11, 2008 at 7:24 pm
(56) Kathleen Imber says:

I, also, have Native American blood in me, though it’s nine generations back. Plus Scotch-Irish, German, French and English. I am a lesbian who has been with my partner for 12 years, and she is three-quarter Cherokee. We have both became Pagans(Roman/Latin for (“country dweller)about 8 years ago. My partner says Paganism and the Earth religions are very close to her Native American beliefs anyway, and we do not look at Thanksgiving as a horror story about what happened to the Native population after the white people took over the country. Instead, we look at it as just another Harvest festival, and truly a day of Thanks, for what we have, and how lucky we are to have what we have(like each other, and our children, and our home, and my job, and transporation to get TO that job). There are many in this world who don’t even have the basic necessities, like food, water and shelter, people who have to struggle and fight to get even that. So we are thankful to have these things, and we cook a turkey for this occasion,(the meat lasts forever, and we have a new fridge to put the meat in, plus a freezer to put surplus food in)for which I am thankful for, if I had not a job, we wouldn’t have this humble home or a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. So we give thanks, to the Creator, and to the animals who gave their lives so we can eat their flesh to live, and celebrate our good and bountiful lives. Life is short and often hard, be thankful for what you DO have that is good.

November 11, 2008 at 7:33 pm
(57) Arwen says:

I agree with a lot of what’s on here, but I have to say, even though I don’t celebrate most of the Christian holidays, or even ones like Thanksgiving traditionally, I do have to be there with my family because I love them and I know it’s important to be there for them.

Instead, though there is often protest in my heart, I think of each of these times in a pagan way, in the case of Thanksgiving, a time to be grateful for what I have, and for those with me. The idea of praying for those injured along the way, like the native americans is a really good idea to help ease the pain and assist in the healing process.

Often when my family members pray, I will say “Amen” just not usually join in on the prayer in the Christian sense. I will pray to the Goddess and God and thank them for the harvest. It’s clandestine and sort of an individual celebration, but it’s a way to celebrate without “celebrating” or a better word might be “supporting” the ill choices by and treatment of some of America’s ancestors.

blessed be!

November 12, 2008 at 12:44 am
(58) Jennifer says:

I do Thanksgiving every year out of respect. I was raised pagan and know several native americans, so I’ve come to view Thanksgiving like this: For that one moment in history people gathered together in peace and shared a sacred human ritual- eating together. There was a bond there, and I celebrate that. They might have tried to rip each others faces off, but thats later in the story, lol. But no one group of people is ever the enemy, no matter which way you look at it. So I try to tap into the Great Mother as many before me have and make my own reason for a holiday.

November 12, 2008 at 2:06 am
(59) Geri says:

The original Thanksgiving has nothing to do with the Pilgrims or Native Americans.It was a day declared by George Washington as a day to thank his troops in defeating the British. Somewhere in the 20th century one of the presidents declared it a holiday of thanks.It was a day of giving thanks for the great nation that had been built here.It was a day of thanks for those who helped create this country.I saw this on a PBS documentary several years ago.

November 12, 2008 at 10:16 am
(60) Carolyn says:

I feel that you can celebrate Thanksgiving if you just ask, if you may add a few things or if you give the dinner your self make it your own , if you feel the Indians were wronged ( which I do) then you can write a prayer for that purpose to say or decorate to represent them or make some of the native dishes that they might have ate.its more about being with the family then a religious holiday in a lot of family’s if your family is religious then you need to make the decision as to either giving your own dinner or being the bigger person and put your feelings aside and go for family sake.

November 12, 2008 at 1:56 pm
(61) sue says:

it seems to me that protesting or feeling guilty about things you had nothing to do with much less participated in is not just silly but stupid. why not focus your energy on the possitive and protest something you can actually do something about

November 12, 2008 at 3:12 pm
(62) Nysa says:

As far as I am concerned Thanksgiving is another harvest celebration and thus has a strong Pagan undercurrent. We don’t utilize the Pilgrim/Native American legend in our Thanksgiving celebrations. So if the nation wants to give me a day off to overeat in observation of another confiscated Pagan holiday I have no objections, I just apply my beliefs to it.

November 12, 2008 at 4:58 pm
(63) Gypsybell says:

Why choose to not attend something because its xian? Isn’t that discriminating? For me its about Family and Friends enjoying each other no matter what religion, race, or any of that. As a pagan I’m thankful for everyday I have on this earth, So this “Holiday” is about family and friends for most people
Brightest Blessings to All

November 13, 2008 at 12:59 am
(64) Galena says:

How about growing up and lightening up, for pete’s sakes! There are much more important things to protest about than the killing of turkeys and the actions of a bunch of ignorant pilgrims over 300 years ago. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for our blessings today and here and now.

November 13, 2008 at 6:13 am
(65) Pete says:

I would like to see Thanksgiving kept pure with out protest.
It is a time to celebrate with family and friends and be grateful for the bounty we have recieved from mother Earth.
I believe columbus day would be a better time for protest.

Peter Windshadow

November 13, 2008 at 8:03 am
(66) Rafe says:

I usually celebrate the holiday because it I am expected to; not because I believe in it . To me , celebrating Thanksgiving is ethically wrong . On that day I light a candle , and meditate for about an hour , with the intent of learning from history , so I can do my best not to repeat it . I promise to the dead , that personally , I renew my vow of ” Never Again ” . I do not want it to happen again , I celebrate family bonds daily , so I can set aside mourning time .

November 17, 2008 at 3:59 pm
(67) ulliowl says:

I concur with most of the above posters, Thanksgiving is m=now a time of being thankful for your family and the blessings and gifts you have received from the Goddess in the past year.
It is a time to get together and renew the bonds of friendship with both family and friends.

The only time I remember an inordinate stress on the role of the settlers and the native Americans was when I was in Elementary school(over 50 years ago) in Connecticut. But that was another time and the mind set of the world has hopefully changed. If you want to do anything to make the day more meaningful you should meditate on all the current hate in the world and seek a way to relieve all the tribalism and religious hatred.

Until we can expect each other for what we are and rejoice in our differences we are doomed to repeat the past.

November 19, 2008 at 12:41 pm
(68) mommeemarine says:

Well as a Native American, I don’t get that worked up about the holiday. But as the wife of a serviceman and as a veteran I’ve spent most of the holidays away from family, so I see it as a chance to reconnect and enjoy being together. We can put any meaning we want to the reason we as pagans are celebrating a particular holiday.

November 24, 2008 at 10:43 pm
(69) brdgett johnston says:

The appropriate time to celebrate “Thanksgiving” is at the holiday of Mabon (autumn equinox). This is the time for harvest home and harvest festivals. America is the only culture that celebrates a thanksgiving feast long after the harvest is over-wouldn’t you know it. Thanksgiving is put on the calendar in late November for strictly marketing and retail purposes. Again American greed. Look where it’s gotten us. I believe we are now reaping the bad kharma we set in motion when our ancestors displaced the NATIVE AMERICANS purely for colonization reasons over 250 years ago. The sins of the fathers?! Study the history of the holiday we call “Thanksgiving”. No wonder Thanksgiving gets overshadowed by Christmas/Yule/Winter Solstice more and more each year.

November 23, 2009 at 10:07 am
(70) Tim says:

Generally speaking there is the time honored rule that politics and religion should be avoided at family gatherings. Holy wars and genocide are testimony to the fact that these arguments cannot be won peacefully. In the era that we live in today be thankful that you have the opportunity to gather with your family. Make the most of your time together and love them for who they are and believe it will come back to you three fold. Try to set aside differences and leave them unspoken to remain in the dark. I envy you and your dilemma and wish I had your choices to make as I will not be able to share the holiday with my family.

November 26, 2009 at 12:58 am
(71) Seraphim says:

I’m Pagan as well, and do not “celebrate’ traditions holidays.
This time of year should be about family, life, and what we have in our lives TO celebrate.
Thanksgiving is a time for me to chrish what we have as a family. It also signifies the thanks we should give for having an ample harvest, or in this case, the bountiful food set before us.

November 20, 2010 at 12:12 pm
(72) chrissy LaVine says:

To me thanksgiving is just a fun time to cook yummy food and get together with family and not have pesky things like gift giving get in the way. I love thanksgiving because the house smells great and I actually have time to cook amazing food. I don’t think about pilgrims at all.

November 20, 2010 at 12:18 pm
(73) Reddlace says:

The only reason I participate in Thanksgiving is because of my family. It was never my favorite holiday nor was the food my all time favorites.

More than anything its for my son, because this was a tradition I had as a child. If he grows up and decided to have it or not have it, I will fully support him.

Plus my husband, a different religion than myself, well he was born on the holiday of Thanksgiving. So it has always been a special holiday for him.

Plus this year no turkey for us we are having Elk Stakes from the Elk my father in law killed last year.

I think it is a good excuse to be with your family, but make sure to roll it out your own way, and make your own traditions.

November 20, 2010 at 12:39 pm
(74) Teresa says:

I am 3/4 Choctaw and 1/4 Irish. Since November is Native American Heritage and Native Alaskan month, I celebrate Thanksgiving in that context. I have referred to it in the past as “feed my white people day”. We have a feast of predominantly New World foods, turkey, cranberries, potatoes, corn, etc. It becomes more of a celebrate Native America day and pilgrims are hardly mentioned.

November 20, 2010 at 2:36 pm
(75) Steven Evol says:

I still do ThxG But I always wear all black. I keep the reasons why to myself until someone is foolish enough to ask.

November 20, 2010 at 4:56 pm
(76) Lune says:

Thanksgiving for me is Family,Food and Football !!!
I celebrate it as being thankful for all I have in my life.
My family,my warm home and all my kitties and Jellybean.
“Blessed Be” to all of you.

November 20, 2010 at 9:29 pm
(77) onyx wolf says:

The last time I think anyone mentioned the Pilgrims and Natives in a serious manner to me was in school. I mean in a serious manner about Thanksgiving.
But even at that age, we all knew it was propaganda.
No one in this day in age is actually thinking how happy they are the Pilgrims came over here and slaughtered the Natives. At least, I certainly hope not …

I don’t really *celebrate* Thanksgiving. We cook and have a nice semi formal sort of dinner. But it’s not really celebrating anything other than our love of food and spending time with each other. We just seem to have to do it on a particular day to get everyone on board :-/

November 21, 2010 at 3:25 am
(78) Eyre says:

Do I feel bad for what happened to the native Americans? Sure. Just like I feel bad for what happened to the Jews in WWII and throughout history. And for the Bosnian genocides. And for the Darfur genocides. And for the atrocities commited by the Kmer Rouge. The list goes on and on.

But I didn’t participate in any of those. I’m not responsible for them. My ancestors are not responsible for the atrocities committed against the native Americans, either; my grandparents immigrated to the U.S. in the 1930s on one side and the 1940s on the other, and they never hurt anyone ever. My grandfather was a decorated soldier in WWII. My grandmother was a nurse. They spent their lives serving others.

To me, Thanksgiving is a chance to reconnect with my family. I don’t often see them because we’re spread out across three countries, so any chance to spend time with them is a wonderful opportunity. I don’t even think about Pilgrims on Thanksgiving.

November 23, 2010 at 9:01 am
(79) Slinkiee says:

My immediate family (husband and children) have always completely ignored the “origins” of this holiday and with my help have morphed it into a fantastic day of feasting and togetherness. A day where no one go to work, everyone gets to make their favorite dish to share and lots of family time, talk, laughter and yes thankfulness for the wonderful life we all have together. Everyday is a day to be thankful but it is not every day that you get a day off work to do so. I say take advantage of the “holiday” to make it what you will, whether that be a day to protest the horrible way the Native Americans were treated, or to just be with family.

November 23, 2010 at 9:43 am
(80) Jill says:

I never really considered Thanksgiving as much of a holiday. I like Arbor Day more than Thanksgiving. I am thankful every single day, not one day a year. Also it seems like an excuse to eat yourself stupid. We celebrate it “casually” around our house. We don’t overeat but we have a few of the traditionary foods and that’s it. I get the day off from work which is nice so I can spend more time with my kids. I don’t see what the big hub-bub is though. But that’s just me.

November 23, 2010 at 10:20 am
(81) Lecia says:

Thanksgiving has its roots in both Puritan revival meetings (in which they fasted all day and sat in church, they didn’t have time to eat) and harvest celebrations, not that different from Pagan ones. Thanksgiving isn’t about the Pilgrims and Indians for me. I have Native American blood, and I do not feel that my ancestors would be peeved at me for enjoying a family meal.

The Pilgrims and Indians had problems, but for a short time, there was a relative peace and two sets of completely different people were able to cook, share recipes (because the Pilgrims didn’t know how to cook this New World food) and even make treaties that were actually kept. (The broken treaties came about from other colonists who represented the King of England, and later by the American government. The Pilgrims predated and had nothing to do with those decisions… not saying they were saints, but they were not Imperialists. They just wanted to worship in their own way without being harassed.)

I was born on Thanksgiving, so for me it is a birthday celebration. Sadly, I won’t be celebrating this year because my family will be in another state and I will be working as will my husband.

To me, there’s nothing wrong with having a day to feast and be thankful, whether giving thanks to a deity or just having an attitude of appreciating the good things in life. But to each their own.

If you don’t want to celebrate Thanksgiving, be honest with yourself. I suspect it’s not about the Native Americans at all… usually that’s just a cover for the real reason which would be someone’s family is such a pain in the butt they can’t get through a holiday meal without fighting. In that case, the spirit of the holiday is moot.

November 23, 2010 at 10:37 am
(82) Brian Fregien says:

I understand , being BOTH a Wiccan Priest & of partial native American descent , that there can be some confusion around Thanksgiving.
Just as a suggestion, this is what I do, TRY and remember this day for what is it, & WHY it is celebrated, NOT the horrible events that happened afterwords by a lot of our white ancestors.
I feel the same about Columbus Day, which I don’t celebrate, I instead focus on a more relevant observance to me, October 11 , as National Coming Out Day, being that I am GAY !
I agree that there are just are things that YOU have to pick and choose your OWN battles, so to speak.
Blessed Be & May The Truth & Joy Of The Holiday Season Be Yours !

November 23, 2010 at 11:09 am
(83) Tom says:

I’m pagan myself. But, I’ve always celebrated Thanksgiving, even when I was with my family and back then I was Catholic. I think its up to the individual whether they wanna celebrate, or not. So, if u don’t wanna celebrate, that’s fine.

November 23, 2010 at 11:18 am
(84) ninja says:

My history teacher told us that Thanksgiving was created just after the American civil war as an attempt to bring the country together, and give everyone something to mutually celebrate. The starving pilgrims/helpful Native Americans mythos was added later. Thanksgiving is only as religious as you care to make it.

November 23, 2010 at 11:32 am
(85) Grimmy says:

I think there are better ways to protest mistreatment of Native Americans than skipping Thanksgiving. And wouldnt it make more sense to do something in the here and now, like donating to charity funds that help people living on the res, than protesting something that happened over 100 years ago? The Pilgrims aren’t around to care that you’re giving your family the cold shoulder.

You can go to the Southwest Indian Foundation’s website and make a donation to help a family buy a stove to heat their house, then you can spend time with your family and be truly thankful.


November 23, 2010 at 11:42 am
(86) Lyle G says:

It’s a harvest feast, a tradition as old as agriculture and quite pagan.

November 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm
(87) Aurora Moonwolf says:

I celebrate Thanksgiving twice. I celebrate on Mabon because that is when Wiccans often celebrate (not all, but a lot of Wiccans), and it’s the best time of year for harvest, and eating some of that harvest. It’s also nearing the end of the year, and so I spend time reflecting on the positive aspects of the previous year.

My family celebrates Thanksgiving in October (we live in Canada), and I don’t have a problem with celebrating. I understand seeing it as a day of mourning, but what we are celebrating is not how people were treated, but what we are thankful for. One thing to be thankful for is that people aren’t really treated like that anymore. I’m sure some people are, but it’s not like it was in the past. So I say celebrating Thanksgiving is not a bad thing, unless you choose to see it as a bad thing.

November 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm
(88) blackrose says:

as a native american and a wiccan the holiday has all ways been about bringing the famliy together and just having fun.if you dont want to have a hoilday then dont! but think about so one other than your self go to a soup kitchen or an animal shether an do for some one that would really be thankful for what you have done. blessed be

November 23, 2010 at 2:36 pm
(89) Lionel says:

Don’t want then don’t but why don’t get fuzzy

Thanksgiving – is a harvest festival

Nothing – zero – notahtadowitchurnativesamericansrslaves

Abraham Lincolns Thanksgiving Proclamation – October 3, 1863

President Lincoln issued many orders like this. On November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a ‘local day of thanksgiving’.

Sarah Josepha Hale, magazine editor, wrote Lincoln, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”

Other Proclamations
1. The First Thanksgiving Proclamation (1676)
2. Continental Congress Thanksgiving Proclamation (1782)
3. George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation (1789)

December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, made it a fixed date.

November 23, 2010 at 2:43 pm
(90) Fiona says:

Life is to short, get over it!
I’m native American and I
Celebrate thanksgiving.
It’s a holiday for family and friends
To get together.
When you think about it, it really has
Little to do with all the crap that happened.
So in conclusion get the !@&’jv over it
and just enjoy
Being with your family!

November 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm
(91) LeQuita Kulp says:

I understand this persons dilema. That being said I feel the need to educate a little. First off the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Native Americans and Pilgrams together. The pilgrams invited their Native American friends who had helped them survive their first year to feast with them as a sign of their greatfullness for what they had done for them.
Yes unfortunatly many years later the Native Americans where rounded up and forced to live on reservations and yes many of them lost their lives fighting to keep their freedom. These tragic events however have nothing to do with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate all those things we have to be gratefull for, like our families, friends, a home to live in, our food, the fact that we simply live another day.
I am awed that anyone might advise this person to skip Thanksgiving and the awesome time of sharing his/her gratefullness with and for his/her family.
Read please remember the true events that started this Holiday and remember that we should all be thankfull for those little things in our lives we take for granted.

November 23, 2010 at 6:11 pm
(92) Skye says:

I prefer to celebrate thanksgiving as the Feast of Ullr which is a germanic festival traditionally celebrated around this time of year. It’s about the hunt, and being thankful to the gods for the food that we’ve hunted and harvested. So for me it’s not about the First Nations vs. Big Bad Government, that does not even enter in to the issue with me.

November 23, 2010 at 6:40 pm
(93) Stephy says:

My father’s family is Cherokee, and he’s the one who makes the turkey at our house. The only thing that really offends me about Thanksgiving is that the kids make the so-called “Indian headdresses” at school. The ones with the standing-up paper “feathers” in bright, tacky colors are nothing like what the nations of the East Coast would wear on a typical basis. It’s a misrepresentation, and it’s in that weird gray area between ignorance and deliberate ridicule that made the blackface shows in the 19th and early 20th centuries so offensive to African-Americans.

November 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm
(94) forest rangel says:

one day the first people will be reconized in the manner, they should of been, buy all around, and I continue to give thanks to their ancestors and them by loving our planet as they do, I still love cooking a turkey and being with friends and family, it’s about togetherness,aspecialy these days when we need to support and be strong,TOGETHER we can honor our people by giving thanks to their kindness of yesterday today and tomorrows,DO NOT ALLOW THE INTRUTION OF THE NEGATIVE WAYS, KEEP YOU FROM CELEBRATING AN ACTION FROM THE FIRST PEOLE IN THEIR FIRST LIGHT AND LOVE, CELEBRATE IT NOW THE WAY THEY MEANT IT TO BE, THANKS FOR GIVING FOOD, SHELTER, HEALING, LOVE, KINDNESS, KNOWLEGDE, I KNOW THEY WILL HAVE TURKEY, MAY ALL HEAL THROUGH FORGIVNESS, ENJOY YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY’S UNCONDITONALY REV. FOREST RANGEL PAGAN PEACE AND BLESSEDNESS

November 23, 2010 at 10:30 pm
(95) Latricia Thomas says:

Do what I did celebrate the Wiccan version of Thanksgiving Lammas. Read up on Lammas and the God Lugh,and I’m sure you will be able to have a Thanksgiving celebration Wiccan style. Go to google and type in Wiccan style Thanksgiving.Lugh and lammas should come up. On the full moon a friend and i had a wiccan style Thanksgiving. Always remeber for every Christian holiday there is a pagan version cause most Christian holidays were first pagan. May the Gods and Godesses be with you in your search for a Wiccan style Thanksgiving.

November 24, 2010 at 12:36 am
(96) StitchWitch says:

For me, Thanksgiving is more of a secular holiday since I celebrate the harvest at Samhain. Thanksgiving is a time for me to gather with family and enjoy a meal together. I see nothing wrong in sharing the spirit of gratefulness with loved ones, although since I live in Pennsylvania, usually I brave a blizzard to be with my family and arrive just thankful to be alive :-) . I would like to think that by being tolerant of the holidays and beliefs of others, that they will show me the same courtesy. I know that I will treasure each moment and holiday that I share with my family, particularly my elderly grandparents, forever, and that time I spend with them is better for my spiritual being than any religious belief I will ever have, no matter what the differences in our beliefs may be.

November 24, 2010 at 5:05 am
(97) Rebecca Dettman says:

As an Australian-American growing up Down Under, my mother always celebrated Thanksgiving (a tradition which is unknown here in South Australia). Once I left home, I began celebrating it too, inviting Aussie friends to experience it, and got totally carried away with decorating my centrepieces with all the leaves and garlands and pumpkins and vines and nuts. Years later, a friend pointed out “You know, all that harvest stuff you do… that pagan autumn stuff.” This was before I was pagan! And something went… CLICK. A-ha! Nature worship! THAT’S my religion!!!! Oh my gosh!!!! So although it’s totally not ‘correct’, I view Thanksgiving as a sort of pagan harvest celebration. :-) Also, I like it MUCH better than (traditional) Christmas, because it’s not about gifts or Jesus or anything contrived. It’s just about friends, sharing home-cooked food, Indian prayers (which I always recite), and gratitude. Gorgeous.

November 24, 2010 at 5:03 pm
(98) Su says:

Who ever said Thanksgiving is a Christian holiday??? They’ve tried to take over most of the other holidays and make them their own (Ostara became Easter, etc). I do agree the Indians were mistreated by white people way back when. But remember, people, why the “Pilgrims” came here in the first place : for religious freedom, which we now enjoy. And please put yourself on the back burner just for once and go enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with loved ones, and be glad you have loved ones to be with. And think of the leftovers!!! Yum!

November 24, 2010 at 6:02 pm
(99) Ever says:

Personally, I don’t really care about what happens at Thanksgiving. I just follow along, even though it isn’t a Pagan holiday (in fact, I don’t think it technically can be a holiday, because the word holiday comes from two words: holy and day. There’s nothing holy about so-called “Thanksgiving”).

November 25, 2010 at 8:30 am
(100) Thistle Downe says:

I celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with my family. It is not a day to celebrate how the pilgrims came to this country and took lands, nor how any of their future generations raped, pilaged and muedered Native American peoples…it is simply a day for family and friends to come together. That in itself is sometimes rare in this day and age where lives are busy and seldom interact. It is a day to be thankful for them and enjoy their comp0any sharing a feast together…nothing more. We all believe different things and hold different views and values regarding many things, but on this day we are all equals and none of that matters.

I too am thankful all year long for everything that touches my life…but today is special in that we can all get together and do this as one…a family. Religion does not matter this day, only the people we call our own.


November 28, 2010 at 10:41 am
(101) Raven M says:

As being I am part native american I really don’t like Thanksgiving I see it as start to a sad time. However, my husband and his family love the holiday. Like the author of this blog, I am also thankful for things all year long. But, in that his family and him love the day, in my mind I have it as just a gathering. I think of those who lost their ways, religion, names ect to what happened. I think of them in the hopes that people will learn from this horrible thing and hope it doesn’t come back around.

November 29, 2010 at 4:38 pm
(102) Tara says:

Hi everyone! Just wanted to share my thoughts on ‘Thanksgiving’. I have been in practice as a Celtic pagan for about a year now. I have an interfaith relationship as my partenar Eric is of Christian belief. However he is much more open minded and into learning other beliefs and cultures now since he has met me and he respects my practice and belives what I belive as well as his, he now is less rigid and belives in more than one religious possibility. We have been together for over four years now and have never let religon get in the way of our love for each other. I never knew until this year that ‘thanksgiving’ was considered a day of mourning for the native american people. My partener Eric is desendent of the Cherokee tribe and I educated him of this fact. So this year we had more of a ‘give thanks’ day and also had an extension celebration on the mourning moon. I had special prayers said remembering the opression of the native american people. We do not have ‘family’, our family is just the two of us and our kitty’s so it was a nice quite day and we did not get overboard with a huge silly celebration. We even set a place at the table for ancesters and the loved onces who have made their journey to the otherworld. So, overall I agree with the previos posters, for us it was a day to be thankful because we are going through a terrible time right now like many others and are in a way oppressed so as we ate we thought about what the native american people might have gone through and we where just thankful to have food (thanks to gracious food pantries) and a roof over our heads! Blessed be to all!

November 30, 2010 at 11:44 am
(103) Morgan says:

Holidays all boil down to one thing, spending time w family! You get together to eat and be merry. Holidays are not about gifts. For the holidays where gifts are given, that becomes the family perogative. There should be no “holiday rules.” Family is the most important. My dad was the “black sheep” of the family. My mom is a christian. I am Wiccan. We are all thankful for everything on a daily basis! Thanksgiving is just a day to all get together to celebrate those thanks! My only issue w some of these posts…is the word “indian.” Indians are from the continent of India. The people in question are Native Americans! I just want the Universe to be Civilized! Live and let live! Love all people as family that you have not met yet!! Merry we meet, merry we part and Merry we meet again. Blessed Be! Love Morgan

December 9, 2010 at 10:15 am
(104) Kattster says:

I refuse to participate in this event, as I believe it is silly as well… I am thankful all year long for everything I have, and my family only celebrates for the food, nothing more. While others still celebrate, I respect them for it, it is their choice.

December 9, 2010 at 9:23 pm
(105) pepperstorm says:

I had over 12 members of my family on the white pilgrim side and 10 on the Native Americans side at the first thanksgiving. Everybody brought something and there was feasting and harmony between the two races at the first thanksgiving , IT WAS THE PURITANS NOT THE PILGRIMS WHO STARTED THE BADNESS BETWEEN THE WHITE AND INDIANS, and contrary to popular opinion puritans and pilgrims were Not the same people and had different religious views. I think thanksgiving is now a blend of the Native American Harvest , Celtic Harvest, and the Pilgrims being grateful that they had survived with the help of the Native Americans. We have so many holidays now a days for one thing or another why not have a thankfulness Day (Thanksgiving) It should be a day of togetherness and harmony for everyone, not a day to pick at old wounds , refusing to let things heal. It must have worked for my family and other pilgrim families because I am a mixture of Indian and white , like so many other descendents of that day.

November 14, 2011 at 3:08 pm
(106) Greenman says:

I love Thanksgiving.

Particularly because it ISN’T a religious holiday, it is quite simply a good excuse for family and friends to gather together with good food, good wine and/or beer, and watch football, play football, play cards catch-up with each while standing around the kitchen, or just running around in the the woods with your cousins (for the under 13 crowd!)

Sometimes there’s snow, sometimes just dry leaf piles, sometimes you can still wear your shorts outside.

Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, cornbread, black olives, salmon, potato salad, and a hundred other foods that families make on “Turkey Day.”

Oh, what fun! And nobody’s excluded because it’s NOT a Xtian holiday, it’s not a Pagan holiday, it’s not even a nationalistic holiday. It’s just a good excuse to take two days off of work, see family and eat good food and have fun.

Does Thanksgiving celebrate the dominance of Europeans over Native North Americans? I don’t think so.

The “Original Thanksgiving” at Plymouth was very much about neighbors coming together for a harvest feast and enjoying each others company one last time before winter set in, in fact after the first Thanksgiving, most of the Europeans at Plymouth died of fever, or starvation.

The autrosicties against Native North Americans occurred for the most part long after the “First Thanksgiving” and we do not celebrate them at all, if we did we would have “Trail of Tears Day” or something. But we don’t.

History happened, and there’s nothing we can do about the events of the past. What we can do is get together with friends, neighbors, family and even old enemies for a meal and some fun, and even bury the hatchet, and move on into the future together.

After a nap.

November 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm
(107) Rowan ferch Gwynedd says:

All of the different agricultural societies I have read about have a large Harvest feast usually held after all of the big work is done at harvest time. There is usually some of the preserving still to be done, but the harvesting is done and the slaughtering is mostly done depending on the weather. It is mostly a celebration that the largest part of the work is done with only maintenance to be done over the winter. I believe that this is the reason for the season as they say. If you don’t come from a agricultural society then don’t celebrate. If so just celebrate.

November 15, 2011 at 8:45 am
(108) Angel says:

I don’t celebrate the “holiday” per say, but I do like to get together out of respect for my family and eat with them. So for me, its mainly for the food, lol. Now that I’m in another state, I can’t do that with the family I want to. As far as celebrating the actual holiday, I try more to respect my family rather than focus on my religion. Simply because they respect me for Samhein so why shouldn’t I give something back in earnest to them?

So, that’s just my two cents. :)

November 15, 2011 at 8:47 am
(109) Sally says:

I personally don’t like celebrating any holiday sabbat! Or equinox for pagan religion. My fa religious beliefs, me being the only pagan . This always ends In a bad way, with some sa concert. Thanksgiving to me is everyday beca for so much. As I look at the families around just a way to get a free meal or a day off fro is a whole other can of worms.

November 15, 2011 at 8:49 am
(110) Cosmo says:

For me, it IS about Pilgrims and Native Americans.
It’s about them getting along. It’s about one helping the other to survive in a new and often hostile environment. It’s about co-operation and goodwill.
Yes, terrible things happened later, after the pilgrims, and terrible things happened before they got here, but…
1)…I do not believe that my own ancestry, traceable on my mother’s side directly to the Mayflower Compact, were as “bent on genocide” as some would have us all believe.
2)…I refuse to be ashamed of my race. The actions of some individuals that may be connected to me by DNA may certainly be qualified as “despicable,” but….
…find me any race, any family, any clan, tribe or litter that has NOT had at least ONE individual at some time in it’s history who was at least capable of such things.
To claim that “All white European descendants should be ashamed of their ancestors actions” is as racist a statement as any that I have ever heard from any White Supremacist.
I for one am glad the pilgrims landed and that my mother was born in this wonderful area of America we call New England. I’m grateful and thankful for “Squanto” (as he was known to be called) and his helping my ancestors to survive the harsh Cape Cod winter.
Happy Thanksgiving!

November 15, 2011 at 8:56 am
(111) Sally says:

My post came out wrong & I apologize. I was saying I only like celebrating sabbats or equinox.due to my belief. Again I apologize if my original post was offensive.

November 15, 2011 at 9:00 am
(112) Tanith says:

Unfortunately my family turns Thanksgiving into a religious holiday. My mother and I consider ourselves Wiccan and our family is southern baptist. We face Thanksgiving with grim determination and enjoy ourselves best we can.

November 15, 2011 at 9:01 am
(113) Scott says:

For me Thanksgiving is a time for families to get together and talk about what has happen. In this modern age where we are always running about for this or that it is nice to have a day where everyone stops for a moment and sits down an have a meal together. Thanksgiving for me is a day to eat, talk, eat, watch football, eat, nap, and if you are a guest go home do the same thing there. Thanksgiving is the last harvest festival before the snow really falls. So enjoy the day with your family and put everything aside for 1 day and just be together.

November 15, 2011 at 9:44 am
(114) Mariah says:

Michael Dorris wrote a great piece entitled “Why I’m not thankful for Thanksgiving” – it is just one article in a great publication by Rethinking Schools (called Rethinking Columbus). When I had kids in elementary school all the silly pilgrim/Indian hallmark-style hype showed up and I did a lot of ‘educating’ in their classrooms.


November 15, 2011 at 11:06 am
(115) Janet Vandenabeele says:

I view the persistence of Thanksgiving as a sign that people feel the need in a “book religion” society who gets their food on plastic trays from supermarkets to harken back to the actual harvest and celebrate it. The timing may be a bit off from the old, nature-based cycle, but the innate desire is there nonetheless. Witness the explosion of Halloween as a societal expression of comfort with the supernatural (despite the nagging of the naysayers).

My family never celebrated the whole Pilgrim thing anyway, and it was easily unlearned from elementary school. So it’s always been a family-tradition holiday and will continue to be so.

I do find it interesting that, having whined incessantly about “Putting the Christ back in Christmas,” Christians are now saying we’ve stolen Thanksgiving from them, and taking great, dramatic offense at the occasional reference to “Turkey Day.” Get a life, people!

November 15, 2011 at 1:22 pm
(116) Wale says:

To me Thanksgiving should be celebrated just as much as Colombus day, and I mean that in the most sarcastic way. I am from the island of Puerto Rico and what happened in the island of the carribean is nothing to be celebrated with a parade. The audacity of “Thanksgiving” and “Colombus Day”is something that Americans should be ashamed of. I agree with it should be a day of mourning.

November 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm
(117) Jim says:

Being of a native american and irish / italian decent I used to often be in conflict regarding Thanksgiving among other ” Holidays ‘ . It wasn’t until I had a family of my own that I really sat down and thought about it. Thanksgiving day is celebrated in our home solely as a gathering of our family and friends and to me that is enough reason for me to “celebrate ” it I don’t condone the actions of my european ancestors against my native amierican ancestors but, I also respect them all for other reasons.

try celebrating thanksgiving using pagan beliefs and you’ll see you may actually enjoy it. One other thing I let my family and friends and several aquaintances know how I felt in a strong but polite manner.

November 15, 2011 at 2:29 pm
(118) Amber says:

My father is Native American (although I do not know him personally, and I was not raised on a reservation, he was) So it’s “in my blood” but to me and my family Thanksgiving is like it is for a lot of people, a special day to be thankful for the things we have, like family and enjoy each others company over some good food. I am a military spouse and now we live far from our families so I really love that we spend Thanksgiving with friends who are in the same boat…it just brings people together.

November 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm
(119) Deany says:

Indians and Pilgrims is just the propaganda they teach kids in school. Based on those lies I agree it’s not a day that should be celebrated. However, the Pilgrams had many days of thanksgiving, not just one, and none of them were nonsecular as they were determined by a clergyman and most of the time they lasted more than one day.

But we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving for any of those lies told by elementary school teachers. We celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday because of a post antebellum one woman writing campaign. I don’t remember her name, but she wrote Abraham Lincoln several letters asking that there be a holiday to reunite families who had fought against one another in the Civil War, as most civil wars are wars agains brothers. Abraham Lincoln thought it was a good idea and decided it would be a national holiday pn the last thursday in November. I believe that reuiniting with family, despite disagreements, as a reason to get together and have a meal with family, is a darn good reason to have a day off.

By arguing about whether or not it should be celebrated due to the atrocities commited against the native americans, is only feeding the propaganda machine by buying into the lies. By saying that I’m not saying that native americans weren’t subjected to what amounts to genocide until the 1970′s. I’m saying that it is not the true reason we celebrate the day. The story of the Indians and the Pilgrims is just a story told by the government indoctriation machine.

So instead of saying no to Turkey Day, I say we just say no to government lies. Maybe, in the true spirit of the holiday, start a writing campaign against the lies being taught to our children. But most of all, enjoy our time with our familys or neighbors despite our own personal civil wars.

November 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm
(120) Faye says:

Personally, Thanksgiving doesn’t even relate in my mind to the “first Thanksgiving” when the United States was discovered. I view it solely as a time to enjoy family, friends, and the gifts, talents, and opportunities that I’ve been blessed with. Thanksgiving can still be celebrated as a holiday of love and blessings instead of remembrance of the past hurts!

November 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm
(121) Fruit says:

I’ve never been much for celebrating it, even before I was pagan. Yeah, it’s a time to eat lots of good food but it always felt meaningless for me.

I’m not into holidays so much. Unless they have a really good meaning to me and this doesn’t. Yeah, you can be thankful but can’t you be all the time? I don’t celebrate Valentines Day either because it’s just a big marketing gimmick and why do I need a specific day to show my fiance I love him? I love him year round and I should be showing that…year round.

I haven’t really celebrated since I moved out of my parents 3 years ago. They know it’s a gamble if I show up and my fiance’s parents try and invite me to theirs because they said they “feel bad for me”. I don’t know..they’re really tradtional and a bity off-putting.

That’s just me though. Do what you want. :)

November 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm
(122) Noche says:

Personally, I celebrate Thanksgiving. It wasn’t all the white people (specifically not the ones who took place in Thanksgiving) who mistreated the Native Americans. I don’t think it should be a time of sadness, nor something you should opt to completely omit from your life. If it personally doesn’t jive with your opinions (which is fine) then you should still try to find something good about it instead of being upset. Also, not celebrating Thanksgiving because your ancestors (maybe, you don’t know for SURE just where you came from) mistreated the Native Americans is like saying no immigrants should celebrate Independence Day, and that no Muslim-Americans should feel pride or remorse on 9/11. Just remember to be positive no matter what your perspective is.

November 15, 2011 at 7:02 pm
(123) Adele says:

Thanks to the ‘Takeing Over Government’ protestors, protesting has lost it’s impact. I think there was wrong on both sides of the coin when it comes to treatment of Native Americans, and suspicion of Native Americans towards the settlers. Like most situations, both sides have good and bad. However, it is time for both sides in this battle to relax about wrongs of the past. They cannot be undone. We can, however, move forward in friendly coexistence. I have a great respect for both sides. Since my ancestors were on the settler side, I have great respect for their ability to survive. That is the only reason I am here. So mote it be.

November 15, 2011 at 7:35 pm
(124) etherealme says:

My best friend is Native American and her family has always observed. I do it out of tradition. Xtians still judge and persecute to this day,it is not going to change what my family does and doesn’t observe. It is a day to enjoy fine food,good company and reflect on what it means to be grateful. Everyday I am thankful just to be here but there is something just to the tradition. If we boycotted everything Xtians were responsible for,we wouldn’t leave our homes. Just my two cents..

November 15, 2011 at 8:25 pm
(125) Running Wolf says:

thank you i thought i was the only felt this way about thanksgiving

November 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm
(126) Running Wolf says:

i as a native american am glad that someone else feels this way about thanksgiving. i tolerate it and prepare it for my family but do not like it either. thank you

November 15, 2011 at 11:42 pm
(127) Lacran says:

To be perfectly honest this is the one day a year that I eat dinner at a table with my family. Its the only time we are all at the same table despite the fact that 5 of us all live in the same house. Though I wish I could opt not to celebrate since my father and I haven’t gotten along for my entire 21 years of life (and its only gotten worse) my mom appreciates it if I can sit at the dinner table once a year and pretend I like him.

November 16, 2011 at 8:41 am
(128) denim says:

Aside from the consideration of the meaning of Thanksgiving celebrations is this person’s sense of guilt. “White guilt” can be a real problem for some folks. Most of us work through this by incorporating what we’ve learned into our daily lives–we challenge racist/sexist/anti-religious/homophobic comments or actions when they occur, we work for or support organizations who are making social change or who help those in need, we work for equity, and, yes, we offer education. When I was younger, I was very much into protest, and I still realize it has its place at times, but daily, positive efforts are what really make change happen in the law, society at large, and in the hearts of those around us. Shed the guilt and take up positive efforts for support and change. Not only will you be blessed, but so will others.

November 16, 2011 at 9:55 am
(129) Chris M says:

My family celebrates Turkey day (we have ours in October in Canada) and instead of celebrating whatever it is everyone else celebrates it for, I simply thank the gods for continuing to provide us with enough food to eat, a roof over our heads and our continuing good health. I know we usually are thankful all the year round, but it does seem to give a very nice focal point for it, since it does fall during the time of the harvest, and just before samhain for us in canada :) .

November 17, 2011 at 10:54 am
(130) Aryn says:

I don’t know, I feel that we should have a day of mourning for the Native Americans who lost their lives. I mean, when the Germans killed the Jews, we called it genocide and we stopped them, why is it here in America when we have a genocide, we celebrate it? Doesn’t anyone see how two-faced this is, other than me? My great grandmother was half- Native American, and my great-great grandfather a full blooded Native American, granted my mother was adopted, but still I believe in respecting the dead, not celebrating their death by genocide. All I want is that if there’s going to be a Thanksgiving, celebrating how the Native Americans helped the new comers to their land, then we should also have a day of mourning for them because we took advantage of their hospitality and kindness then stabbed them in the back both figuratively, and in some cases, literally.

November 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm
(131) celt-pegan says:

I can understand being upset about this issue. I don’t participate in anything related to Christopher Columbus for the same reasons and haven’t since high school. but I don’t think many people look at it from a Pilgims and Native Americans view at home I think that is mostly children and just marking otherwise it has nothing to do with the modern holiday. and like others have said you need to pic your battles, but if its that important to you than you need to let your family know and they will understand if they know you well enough

November 19, 2011 at 9:29 am
(132) Kristen says:

Thanksgiving for my family as a child was always about family, fun and football. yes, my grandmother and mother had the traditional pilgrim and indian table decor,but that was not our focus. Now, i’ve taught my children the pagan way of blessings and thanks and i only use cornucopias full of food and flowers with pumpkins and autum leaves for my decor.

November 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm
(133) April says:

I haven’t gone to Thanksgiving or Christmas in years. I protest quietly simply by not attending. I simply told my family over drinks that I don’t feel comfortable with the mass production that goes into growing turkeys and hams beyond their natural state, the ignored history of the ‘holiday’, and as for Christmas the disgusting amount of presents and food that goes into what is supposed to be a religious event. The fact that so much money is spent on one day while others go without. I explained all of this and reported that I could not in all good conscience attend and they were hurt but accepted my standing up for what I believe in. But I call and send a card. I try to be tolerant and look at all the pictures and smile at the happy faces. We must remember to accept them if we expect them to accept us.

November 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm
(134) Rande says:

We celebrate TURKEY day NOT Thanksgiving. We use it as a day to celebrate loved ones, family (those still here with us and those that have passed). My husband and I are both from Native American decent. We love the traditions that our past generations have laid down for our families and we’ve incorporated both sides into 1. For us its about traditions and celebrating family.

November 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm
(135) Mrs.B. says:

My husband and I got married the day after Thanksgiving so that both of our families from different states would be able to travel for the wedding. It was our first co-family dinner together. For us, Thanksgiving always fall on our anniversary or within a day two. We just celebrate family time together and our anniversary!

November 22, 2011 at 4:13 am
(136) Raven Sylverwolf says:

I think of Thanksgiving as a day with family. Thankful to be together. This will be my 1st thanksgiving as a wiccan. I am only 8 months into my path. So, I am doing more research into the meaning of thanksgiving to pagans and its true origins.

I can understand pagans not celebrating thanksgiving though. I feel shameful towards my white ancestors for the outrageous violations agains our cousins the american indian…

I wish everyone love & harmony ~ Raven Sylverwolf )O(

November 8, 2012 at 9:12 am
(137) Leah says:

I really dont like celebrating holidays outside my religion. I agree, thanksgiving is a silly holiday. The 2 that bother me the most is christmas & easter. My husbands family is christian & celebrate every holiday to its fulles, so they want their kids & grandkids included. I am trying to raise my kids wiccan & this just confuses them. I was force-fed bible until I turned 18 & left home so this is very hard for me. Im thinking of drawing the line this year and coming out of the broom closet. My in-laws have no idea I am wiccan & Im sure they wont be happy when they find out but I think it will be worth it to stand up for my own religious rights instead of being dragged into theirs every year.

November 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm
(138) Kitty says:

Part of my heritage is Cherokee, the other European descent. Some have been here since the before the American revolution and fought for independence, served on both sides of the Civil War (the Cherokee sided with the south), some arrived just after and all participated in WW2. At what point are we not now all Americans?

Yes, we should be aware of the past – the true past – but the history of the Native Americans and Pilgrims is not what this is about. A faulty, but I’d like to believe well intentioned, government created holiday has degenerated into gluttony, football and Black Friday shopping plans. That is what I find the most offensive. The name says it all: “Thanksgiving” and while as Pagans we do have time set aside for harvest and thanks, other religious paths and their calendar doesn’t.

We choose to take the day as a chance to be respectful of the other paths within our family and friends and tell them with our time we are thankful for them. I host the day for family. We have “accidentally” disconnected the cable so everyone played games and talked. We have gathered everyone following dinner and gone to a local nursing home to visit those who are alone.

I’m wondering where it is written that one must hold resentment for that which has been and let it intrude on what we make today. There is more to Thankfulness than just the individual.

This year, my Mom has moved in with our family due to her Alzheimer’s disease making it unsafe for her to be independent any longer. Finding thanks in that is difficult, but will be focused on her happy memories of times past.

November 28, 2013 at 11:47 am
(139) Desiree says:

I think it’s very sad that so many ignore the truth eat like pigs… And follow the sheep.

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