Today is one of the most notable days in American, next to Christmas and Independence that is. In The Bahamas this holiday is not celebrated as such, though many Bahamians have adopted the practice of cooking Turkey, ham and all the trimmings for Thanksgiving.
What we do celebrate back home, though, is Harvest Thanksgiving. What’s the difference you ask? The difference is, Thanksgiving in America is in commemoration of the Pilgrim’s 1621 celebration of their first harvest in the New World, the fest is said to have lasted 3 days and also attended by Indian (Native Americans); and have evolved into a day of family and feast that’s widely celebrated today. Kinda like a rehearsal for Christmas because most of the same food are served, Ham, Turkey with all the trimmings would be the same prepared at Christmas time.
Hopping over to the Bahamas, a predominately Christian Nation comprising of, but not limited to, Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, Rastafarian.
Appropriately we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving at the end of the liturgical (Church’s) year, which is always the end of November, therefore colliding with that of the American Thanksgiving. Harvest Thanksgiving is an opportunity to give thanks for the year’s bountiful harvest of fruits, vegetables(provisions), livestock, fish…… Much like the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims and Native Americans in The United States; around the country, on the island in particular, church services, recital performances, and special assemblies at schools are held in celebration. During which time produce, and food items are donated by students, farmers and members of the community; these items are blessed as the sick, the needy, and less fortunate are lifted up in prayers. There are also prayers for guidance and protection in the coming Advent Season, which begins around November 30th and ending on December 24th. At the end of the Harvest Thanksgiving service, all items food and produce are distributed among the less fortunate throughout the community.
I’m no certain how long this tradition has been in practice, whether it’s something from our African Heritage or something that was introduced during the days of Colonialism. But it’s a tradition that’s rooted in our culture and is very taken to heart, much like that of the American Thanksgiving, with the exception of the huge family gathering and feasting; our celebration of Thanksgiving is indeed a community effort.
Harvest Thanksgiving Feast and Offerings…….
To all those Celebrating………
©Etta D. Richards