In Europe, including Norway, Thanksgiving in various traditional forms has long roots and can not be seen as an American tradition, we try to copy. Actually “Thanksgiving” has been celebrated at all times throughout the world. Even the ancient Greeks had their “Thanksgiving”, where they celebrated the fertility goddess Demeter. The Romans celebrated the corn crop and the goddess Ceres. In Norway in the old days was Michaelmas (29 September) – which was both a harvest festival and celebration of the Archangel Michael – a very important festival in our country. Because it falls near the equinox, it is associated in the northern hemisphere with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. Michael is the greatest of all the archangels and is honoured for his defeat of Lucifer in the battle for the heavens in the Bible.
Nowadays Thanksgiving is rarely celebrated in Norway or elsewhere in Scandinavia. However, I’m fortunate to be married to an American, so today we had our turkey:
This has given me the chance to get a better insight of what Thanksgiving is all about and how important it is to North Americans. I love to learn about other countries culture and traditions and of course, since it’s also related to European and Norway’s history from the 1800s I’ve been digging into the history and found this:
In the US:
In relation to Norway which is a country with a small number of immigrants, North America is where European immigrants flocked to. The Thanksgiving story is mainly based on the English pilgrims, the Mayflower ship, which sailed from England in the early 1600s, in search of the Promised Land. When they finally arrived at Plymouth Rock, located in the USA’s east coast in the state of Massachusetts, the trip had taken much longer than planned. The late arrival meant that they had not cultivated the earth, as the ensuing winter resulted in many who died of starvation. When spring came, they were aided by local Indians to plant the earth and set up simple houses. Then in late November 1621, the English settlers and American Indians celebrated the harvest which would mean food and shelter for the coming winter.
I’m fully aware of the history of Thanksgiving Day in Canada too (the second Monday in October) and that it goes back to an explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. However Frobisher’s Thanksgiving was not for harvest but homecoming. He had safely returned from a search for the Northwest Passage, avoiding the later fate of Henry Hudson and Sir John Franklin. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. The feast was one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations by Europeans in North America. Frobisher was later knighted and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him — Frobisher Bay.
So to all friends and family over there – and I know a lot of you have anchors in Norway or other places in Scandinavia too: Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
You’re welcome to read DianeCA, my wife’s post from today and what she is thankful for!