In the News:
Attitudes of gratitude
By Jennifer Toomer-Cook
News and People
"In the United States, it's turkey and pumpkin pie.
In southern India, sweetmeats, rice and milk.
In China, moon cakes and round fruits.
Thanksgiving traditions and dates differ worldwide. But most cultures' celebrations contain the same message -- to thank God for a bountiful harvest -- at least as its centerpiece.
Here's a sample of how cultures mark the ancient tradition, gleaned online from history.com, thanksgiving.org.uk, pongalfestival.org and theholidayspot.com.
Southern India has Pongal, a four-day celebration marking a period of plenty, peace and happiness. Typically timed mid-December to mid-January, Pongal includes giving thanks for farmers' cattle and harvest and worship of cloud and sun deities. Practices include offerings of rice and milk, welcoming guests into the home and preparation of sweetmeats.
East Asians, in a tradition tracing back 3,000 years, mark the Moon Festival, a celebration of abundance and togetherness that parallels the autumn equinox. Traditions include eating moon cakes (filled with a sweet bean paste) and round fruits symbolizing togetherness, even putting pomelo rinds (like grapefruit) on the head, carrying lanterns and burning incense in reverence to deities.
Canadian Thanksgiving Day, the second Monday in October, is traced to explorer Martin Frobisher who searched for a northern passage to the Orient. In 1578, he held a ceremony to give thanks for surviving the journey.
Brazil's day of thanksgiving and prayer was born in 1949 out of the American celebration, which an ambassador brought home following a U.S. visit. Many South American native Indian cultures offer expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving as well.
American families will sit down to a feast and offer thanks for each other, for people making a difference in their lives or community, or for God's bounty.
Yet Thanksgiving also is a gateway to holiday shopping -- Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is as much a staple as football and pumpkin pie -- a fact that changed Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving decree.
The national day of Thanksgiving was set for the last Thursday in November. But the 1939 calendar brought a fifth Thursday, shortening the shopping season. So the National Retail Dry Goods Association lobbied to move Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of the month. President Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed, but congressional approval of the controversial move wouldn't come for two more years.
Still, Thanksgiving maintains hold of its roots. Thanksgiving Day services are scheduled at several churches in the Salt Lake Valley alone, and Interfaith services are scheduled for Sunday.
"The idea was to provide a Thanksgiving service that allowed our broader community to come together and hear from different religious groups and their holy books," Kilo Zamora, executive director of the Inclusion Center, formerly NCCJ, said of the 19th annual interfaith service scheduled this year at the Masonic Temple in downtown Salt Lake City.
Past participants have included representatives from protestant, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Jewish and LDS faiths, and comments from an American Indian perspective, Zamora said.
"Being together with a lot of different faith traditions to celebrate and share in our interfaith spirit really allows people to think beyond themselves and prepare for their own spirituality as they move into the holiday season."
A table, he says, where all are welcome."
Christianity,Spirituality,Meditation,LDS,Mormon,Christian,Hymns,Praise and Worship,Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Monday, November 24, 2008
at 9:23 AM