Autumn traditions for 2014 – 6 Bonfire night

After the gathering of witches and calling the spirits on the 31st of October, people loved to be busy with the dead on the following days, celebrating All Saints and All Souls people want to frighten the spirits away. This, according many cultures can be done with making as much noise as possible and bringing flashy nights. On the other hand many find it necessary to bring the ‘sacred days for the dead’ to a good end by bringing all the death material back to dust by fire. At the end of the Autumn holiday or All Saints holiday bonfires may lit in several places.

Anti Catholic sentiment

Portrait of Henry VIII, King of England

Portrait of Henry VIII, King of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many there is also an anti-Catholic sentiment which found its origins in the English and Irish Reformations under King Henry VIII and the Scottish Reformation led by John Knox. The Act of Supremacy 1534 declared the English crown to be ‘the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England‘ in place of the pope. Any act of allegiance to the latter was considered treasonous because the papacy claimed both spiritual and political power over its followers. The Scottish Reformation in 1560 abolished Catholic ecclesiastical structures and rendered Catholic practice illegal in Scotland.

Pius V and Elizabeth I

Pius V and Elizabeth I (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having Pope Pius V wanting to depose Queen Elizabeth with the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis, he declared her a heretic and the servant of crime. The pope released all of her subjects from any allegiance to her, and excommunicated any who obeyed her orders. By this bull the queen found herself forced to have the believers choosing for the pope or for her, becoming part of the ecclesia anglicana, or Anglican faith. The Elizabethan Religious Settlement was set out in two Acts of the Parliament of England. By the Act of Supremacy of 1558 the governement managed to get back the control over the churches in the reign. By re-establishing the Church of England‘s independence from Rome, with Parliament conferring on Elizabeth the title Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the Act of Uniformity of 1559 outlined what form the English Church should take, including the re-establishment of the Book of Common Prayer.

On the question of images, Elizabeth’s initial reaction was to allow crucifixes and candlesticks and the restoration of roods, but some of the new bishops whom she had elevated protested. The determination to prevent any further restoration of “popery” was evidenced by the more thoroughgoing destruction of roods, vestments, stone altars, dooms, statues and other ornaments.  Puritans delivered sermons regarding the perceived dangers of popery, while during increasingly raucous celebrations common folk burnt effigies of popular hate-figures, such as the pope.

A devout and militant Catholic

Guy Fawkes (a.k.a. Guido Fawkes), cropped detail from a contemporary engraving of the Gunpowder Plotters. The Dutch artist probably never actually saw or met any of the conspirators, but it has become a popular representation nonetheless. - National Portrait Gallery, London

Guy Fawkes (a.k.a. Guido Fawkes), cropped detail from a contemporary engraving of the Gunpowder Plotters. The Dutch artist probably never actually saw or met any of the conspirators, but it has become a popular representation nonetheless. – National Portrait Gallery, London

Travelling soldier—mercenary would be the wrong word, Guy Fawkes (1570–1606), a devout and militant Catholic, brought in on a plan to blow up Britain’s Houses of Parliament on November 5, 1605. The family Fawkes with father Edward Fawkes (sometimes spelled Faux), a judicial court official, was required, under the state Church of England religion (now known as Anglicanism, with the Episcopal Church as its American branch), to swear an oath pledging that they were Protestants. Fawkes’s mother, Edith, like many other Catholics, put up a Protestant facade, but her nephew became a Jesuit priest and some of her relatives were recusants — English Catholics who refused to attend Protestant church services. When Edward Fawkes died, when Guy was eight, his mother showed her true sympathies by marrying another recusant, Denis (or Dionysus) Bainbridge, described by an acquaintance (according to the Gunpowder Plot Society) as “more ornamental than useful.” The family moved to a home near the village of Scotton in North Yorkshire. From that point on, Fawkes likely began to come in contact with devout Catholics who were working through official channels and also by underground means to safeguard and advance the rights of Catholics under the country’s increasingly entrenched Anglican regime.

St. Peter’s School in the city of York though having a nominally Protestant headmaster, John Pulleine (or Pulleyn), was likely a hotbed of Catholic resistance. One local noblewoman, according to Gunpowder Plot historian Antonia Fraser, called the school “Little Rome.” Fawkes, according to one source, married Pulleine’s daughter Maria and had a son, named Thomas, in 1591. Other early accounts of Fawkes’s life make no mention of the marriage, which could suggest that it was very short (perhaps with mother and child dying in childbirth) or that it did not occur at all.

Spain wanting to control Flanders and to invade England

Working as a footman to the Catholic nobleman Lord Montague, he may have met Robert Catesby, the originator of the Gunpowder Plot, through family connections during this period. Around 1593, he left England for Flanders (a Dutch-speaking region now divided among northern Belgium, France, and the Netherlands), which was then under the control of Spain, Western Europe’s great Catholic power, and he enlisted in the Spanish army. A military associate (quoted by David Herber) described Fawkes as

“a man of great piety, of exemplary temperance, of mild and cheerful demeanor, an enemy of broils and disputes, a faithful friend, and remarkable for his punctual attendance upon religious observance.”

Spain’s feared Armada had tried unsuccessfully to launch an invasion of England in 1588 trying to expand its power in the willingness to conquer the whole of Europe. Serving under the command of the Archduke Albert of Austria, Spain’s ally, Guy Fawkes fought for the Spaniards in a battle at Calais, in western France, in 1595, and he may have been wounded at the Battle of Nieuwpoort in West Flanders in 1600. It was at the continent that his assignments brought him the experience for blowing up things, like a procession of military wagons. In both these campaigns he came to the attention not only of his Spanish and Austrian commanders but also of a group of English Catholic nobles sympathetic to the Catholic side. He was recognized not only for military valour but also for his virtue and general intelligence.

From protestantism to Catholicism

After the establishment of the Church of England under King Henry VIII and a temporary and gruesome return to Catholicism under Queen Mary (“Bloody Mary”), Protestantism had become well entrenched under Elizabeth, as even the Spaniards recognized. They gave Fawkes a polite reception, but they were moving in the direction of a permanent peace with England, and Fawkes’s mission went nowhere. Meanwhile King James, suspicious of the intentions of English Catholics, sharpened his anti-Papist invective and imposed new fines on recusants.

In Brussels after his Spanish mission, Fawkes was introduced by Sir William Stanley to Tom Wintour, a Catholic soldier. Wintour or Stanley informed Fawkes of a plot under consideration by English nobleman Robert (or Robin) Catesby, whose father had undergone long imprisonment for his Catholic affiliation, and whose own militancy had deepened as he fell on hard times. Fawkes seemed the perfect foot soldier for the plan’s execution. He knew guns and explosives well, and since he had been away from England for many years, his name and face were unknown to Sir Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury and the head of the English monarchy’s secret police.

Conspiracy

Conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. Very similar to one in National Portrait Gallery by Crispijn van de Passe the Elder

Conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. Very similar to one in National Portrait Gallery by Crispijn van de Passe the Elder

At an inn in London’s upscale Strand distric Fawkes, Catesby, Wintour, and two other conspirators met in May of 1604 to swore an oath for carrying out Catesby’s plan: to throw England into chaos by killing its king and lawmakers in a massive explosion, to install King James’s young daughter, Elizabeth, as Queen and arrange her marriage to a Catholic monarch from elsewhere in Europe, thus restoring a Catholic monarchy.  The Westminster district in London’s West End was a crowded warren of streets and businesses at the time, and Fawkes/Johnson attracted little notice as he was installed as caretaker of an empty cellar of an adjoining building. By early 1605 the plotters had begun to fill the cellar with barrels of gunpowder. To disguise it they covered it with iron bars and bundles of kindling, known in British English as faggots. They had to replace the powder as it “decayed” or went stale.

November the 5th

Finally a date for the explosion was set: November 5, 1605, when King James, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons would all be in attendance in the same chamber. The Powder Treason began to unravel on the night of October 26, with the delivery of an anonymous letter to a Catholic nobleman, Lord Monteagle, advising him to concoct an excuse to avoid the opening of the Parliament session on November 5. Monteagle informed Sir Robert Cecil of the letter’s contents, and Cecil informed the King. Continuing uncertainty over who wrote the letter, together with signs that pointed to its being a forgery, have given rise over the centuries to theories that the Gunpowder Plot was devised not by Catholic militants but by Cecil himself, with the intention of permanently crippling Britain’s Catholics in the ensuing uproar. In this version of events (promoted in recent times by Francis Edwards), Fawkes and Catesby were double agents. The preponderance of historical opinion holds that the Treason was a genuine terrorist plot, but the debate continues.

Anti-Irish propaganda from Punch magazine, published in December 1867.

Anti-Irish propaganda from Punch magazine, published in December 1867.

Whatever the case, the cellars beneath the Parliament buildings were searched on the night of November 4, and Fawkes was discovered, along with the gunpowder. Described as a very tall and desperate fellow, he gave his name as John Johnson. King James, according to Fraser, ordered that “the gentler Tortures are to be first used unto him et sic per gradus ad ima tenditur [and so by degrees proceeding to the worst],” although torture was illegal in England at the time, and had been since the signing of the Magna Carta, the 1215 document that restricted the power of the English kings. Fawkes was hung from a wall in manacles and probably placed on the rack, a notorious device that slowly stretched a prisoner’s body until he lost the use of his limbs. After two days, Fawkes gave up the names of his coconspirators, all but one of whom were tracked down and executed or killed. Prior to his execution by hanging in Westminster’s Old Palace Yard on January 31, 1606, Fawkes was barely able to sign his own name on a confession. After dying on the scaffold, he was drawn and quartered.

Restrictions harsher than any they had yet experienced were placed on English Catholics by King James, and November 5 became a national holiday in England, known as Firework Night, Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Day. In the colonial United States it was celebrated as Pope Day, featuring a ceremony in which the Pope was burned in effigy, but the holiday was gradually absorbed into the Halloween festivities that occurred a few days earlier. Guy Fawkes Day evolved away from its roots in Britain, where the targets of the fire might include contemporary figures despised by the public. As part of a group of anti-terrorist measures, the cellars of the Houses of Parliament are still searched by guards each year before the legislature opens in November.

The execution of Guy Fawkes' (Guy Fawkes), by Claes (Nicolaes) Jansz Visscher, given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1916.

The execution of Guy Fawkes’ (Guy Fawkes), by Claes (Nicolaes) Jansz Visscher, given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1916.

 

Remembrance night of terrorism acts or ‘bonefires’ as cleansing ritual

An effigy of Guy Fawkes, burnt on a Guy Fawkes Night bonfire

Celebrations are held throughout the United Kingdom (including non-Catholic communities in Northern Ireland), and in some other parts of the Commonwealth. In the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, 5 November is commemorated with bonfires and firework displays, and it is officially celebrated in South Africa.*

Non religious people love to have a remembrance of the fires in which bones were burned. The “banefire” was the place were the dead were brought together to be burned so that no deceases could spread. It is the sheol or hell spoken of in the Bible, which was at the Biblical times a place outside the cities were the fire was kept burning day and night so that in case of a serious infection the spreading of the decease could stopped soon enough to avoid further deaths. Also the ones (bane) had to undergo a fast decay, which could be done by a fire.

In the ancient and present druid religions, bonfires were and are still held between 31 October and 5 November to celebrate Samhain and to burn the bones of the slaughtered livestock they had stored for the winter months. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. In several pagan circles the tradition of the bonfire is till kept alive. Some modern day Druids and Pagans see bonfire night as a significant celebration to end the harvest festival. In Belgium and Ireland they are mostly lit on the 31st of October. In those countries they are seen as a reaction against those who are religious and believe in Christ and/or in One Creator. Christian symbols are burned to give a sign to abolish them and with it the faith in such symbols or in what it represents. The burning cross should give a clear visible sign  to every one of how they hate the figure of Jesus Christ and everything around it. Pernicious weeds, diseased material is put on the bonfire to show how man can conquer the bad things in nature and how he can be stronger than the natural things which surrounds him. Lots of people find it a nice way to show the gods of nature and the bad spirits that they can control the earth and can frighten any spirit which they do not want to have around them, because if they would come close , they (man) would be there to put them in the fire.

For sure Christians do neither have to celebrate terrorism acts nor papal celebrations, nor feasts for making souls afraid or for giving gods a sign. Participating in such festivities as a sign of anti-catoliscism or a as sign of anti-protestantism would not give a sign of openness to other believers or other Christians and of forgivingness for what had happened in the past.

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* In Northern Ireland, the term “Bonfire Night” can refer to the Eleventh Night celebrations of 11 July. Like 5 November, this Bonfire Night also has its roots in the sectarian struggle between Protestants and Catholics. It celebrates the Battle of the Boyne of 1690, in which the Protestant William of Orange defeated the Catholic James II. The 23 June Bonfire Night in Ireland has its origins in a religious celebration and originally featured prayers for bountiful crops. {“Bonfire repair bill revealed”. BBC News. 15 July 2003. Retrieved 27 May 2011.; Haggerty, Bridget. “St. John’s Eve in old Ireland”. Irish Culture and Customs.}

 

Preceding articles:

  1. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 1: Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet
  2. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 2 Summersend and mansend
  3. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 3 Black Mass, Horror spectacles and pure puritans
  4. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 4 Blasphemy and ridiculing faith in God
  5. All Saints’ Day
  6. All Souls’ Day
  7. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 5 People, souls and saints in the news

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  • This Day in History: October 30th- A King, His Wife, and The Act of Supremacy (todayifoundout.com)
    Pope Clement feared Queen Katherine’s powerful nephew The Holy Roman Emperor right up the road a lot more than the King of England across the ocean, so he put off dealing with the situation.
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    The Protestants in the realm who thought they won a major theological victory were sorely disappointed, because the King deviated very little from traditional Catholic doctrine or ritual. Henry just wanted to be the boss – and to have access to all of the Church’s vast riches in his kingdom, which he plundered with great gusto.
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    How the King James Bible Came About
  • 2000 years of Christianity : what happened? – Part IV – 1200AD – 1600AD (biblethingsinbibleways.wordpress.com)
    1549: Book of Common Prayer released – At the death of Henry VIII, the archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, moved forward with the English reformation. Images were removed from churches, private confessions to priests were discontinued, and the clergy allowed to marry. But mass was still said in Latin. So Cranmer moved to create a liturgy that was pleasing to Protestants as well as Catholics. The book of common prayer was born.
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    1559: John Knox makes final return to Scotland – A Scottish clergyman and writer who was a leader of the Protestant Reformation, founded the Presbyterian denomination in Scotland, helping to write the new confession of faith and the ecclesiastical order for the newly created reformed church in Scotland called “the Kirk”.
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    With the sale of indulgences, the reformation would officially begin at the hand of Martin Luther and the likes of Ulrich Zwingli. Protestantism which spread quickly even with heavy opposition from the Catholic church, even leading to wars between the two groups, would also give birth to the Anglican Church in England, a separate entity from the church in Rome. While Calvin’s teachings were soaked in by Protestantism, a counter reformation was underway inside the catholic church which did not reform many of its earlier teachings. While the Jesuits traveled on missions programs with spain and portugal as they extended their land overseas, many reformers such as Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer were executed for their beliefs – but Protestantism could not be stamped out, and would become one of the largest sects in Christianity – distinctively different from Catholicism, although borrowing and having many of its roots in the teachings of Rome.
  • Repost for Today (supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com)
    The king had declared himself Head of the Church in England and had repudiated its spiritual allegiance to the Pope. The suppression and spoliation of the Religious Orders followed, but the Knights of St. John were not at first included in the general ruin. In 1539, two knights of the English Tongue, Blessed Adrian Fortescue and Ven. Thomas Dingley, a nephew of Sir William Weston, Grand Prior of England, were martyred on Tower Hill for denying the Royal Supremacy. By Letters Patent 7th July, 1539, Henry reminded the knights of the English Tongue that he was a Protector of the Order : and it was his will that in future every appointment must be confirmed by him, and that he was to receive the first year’s revenue of the office.
  • The Fallibility Of Papal Infallibility (psalm115three.com)
    if papal infallibility has only been exercised twice, how can Catholic apologists claim that the canon of scripture, Christ’s deity, the Trinity, etc. have also been infallibly declared? How can they claim that some rulings of Popes and councils are infallible, while others aren’t, without having a reasonable and consistent standard by which to make such a distinction? For example, if Pope Pius IX’s Immaculate Conception decree is infallible, why wouldn’t Pope Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctam decree, which errs repeatedly, also be infallible? Both decrees were issued by Popes, both decrees define doctrine, and both decrees use authoritative language. Or when the Fourth Lateran Council dogmatizes transubstantiation, why is that accepted as infallible, while the same council’s offering of indulgences to those who participate in a Crusade and “exterminate heretics” isn’t accepted as infallible? Catholics are unreasonable and inconsistent in how they define papal infallibility.
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    The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition – 5 – Psychological reasons
    Some Christians routinely advocate angry, hateful behavior. And if they see any vice among individual Catholics they arguably project their own anger – and other shortcomings – onto Catholicism as a whole. This type of Christian is self-perceived as genuine and true while Catholics are deemed invalid.
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    The self-righteous Christian may try to engage others in heated messaging wars over specific points of doctrine. With these individuals, the ideal of loving within the mystical body of Christ gets twisted into something more like negative attention seeking, stemming from an unresolved personal issue.
  • Douthat: Conservatives Will Take Their Ball and Go Home if Francis Changes “Their” Church (religiondispatches.org)
    If the church had been evolving doctrine in a more gradual, holistic manner over the past several decades, the changes being proposed now wouldn’t seem so dramatic. But a pair of popes—John Paul and his long-time doctrinal henchman Benedict—conspired to freeze the natural development of Catholic teaching. They took uber-conservative readings of key issues, like the ordination of women and the “intrinsically disordered” nature of gay Catholics, and then declared them virtually infallible, so that any future evolution was by its very nature heretical.To conservatives, Catholic doctrine has become like a game of capture the flag—if you can hold onto the flag long enough, you win, regardless of the advisability of the original teaching.
  • Biography : Robert Catesby (writedge.com)

    Robert Catesby is a well known figure in English History. He was born in 1673 and died in 1705 at the young age of 32. He was the son of Sir William Catesby of Lapworth and Anne Coughton. Catesby was directly related to the Richard III through his father. He was 6th in the line of succession.

    Catesby’s father was a staunch Catholic and a prime supporter of the Jesuit mission. His religious belief led to his arrest in 1580. Richard was only 8 years old at that time. His father was tried along side Lord Vaux and his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Tresham, for harboring of a Jesuit, Father Edmund Campion. This arrest and trial had a traumatic effect on Richard who grew up as a strong supporter of the Catholic mission.
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    Despite his religious inclinations Catesby was held in high esteem by both Catholics and Protestants and was part of the glamorous circle that surrounded the court. This affluence and popularity played a great part in protecting him from the rigors of recusancy.

    When Queen Elizabeth I fell ill in 1596, as a precautionary measure Catesby and some of his friends from his circle namely John Wright, his brother Christopher and Francis Tresham were arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

  • Death by Quill, the Parliamentary Act of Attainder (englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com)
    Thomas Cromwell simply did what Thomas Cromwell was highly regarded for. He drafted a law forbidding the foretelling of the monarch’s death, filing Acts of Attainder against the Holy Maid of Kent and her inner circle. How can one be convicted for violating a law before it actually became a law? Obviously, that mattered not. Parliament enacted sentence as judge and jury. Elizabeth Barton, Holy Maid of Kent and five men close to her subsequently condemned, they all were executed at Tyburn — problem solved.
  • Could We Please Have Better New York Times Columnists?: Historical Lack-of-Literacy Ediiton (delong.typepad.com)
    the sixteenth-century Catholic Church lost England not because Popes condemned Henry VIII Tudor’s marriage to Ann Boleyn as adulterous, but because Pope Pius V rejected the legality of the Third Succession Act:
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    Pope Pius V, in Regnans in Excelsis, rejected the legality of the Third Succession Act. He commanded Catholics on pain of excommunication to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I Tudor. Regnans in Excelsis declares that it is not the Crown-in-Parliament that decides upon the line of succession to the throne of England, but the Pope.

Hanukkahgiving or Thanksgivvukah

In 1888 the world could celebrate Thanksgiving and the start of the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah (Chanukah {חנוכה}) on the same day. In 2013 this happening now brought for some concerns, because this year the two feasts also come together but are by many mixed.

The convergence of the secular and sacred holidays is presenting opportunities for many Jews and challenges for others — including concerns about everything from extra preparation and party planning to those who think they will dilute or devalue both celebrations.

The dilemma is best illustrated by Hillel Day School teacher Lori Rashty, who recently watched eighth-grade students help second-graders plant their freshly painted hands onto paper to make the turkey, then transform the four finger feathers into candles to incorporate a menorah.

Image from a greeting card made by Jewish online gift shop ModernTribe.comWe are facing a real special Hanukkah – Thanksgiving holiday because we shall have to wait for an other for 79,000 years before we would encounter such an occasion again. Looking at what happens in the world now, this probably would not happen as such, because the Third World War shall have happened already and the Millennium shall also have been a fact, after which Christ Jesus shall have handed over the Kingdom of God again to his Father.

But now we can look at the double-barreled holiday, which in certain countries brings a kind of an exciting way for the kids to realize that it’s a special occasion for them.

The lunisolar nature of the Jewish calendar makes Hanukkah and other religious observances appear to drift slightly from year to year when compared to the U.S., or Gregorian, calendar. Jewish practice calls for the first candle of eight-day Hanukkah to be lit the night before Thanksgiving Day this year, so technically “Thanksgivukkah,” — or “Thanksgivvukah,” as the Hillel students spell it — falls on the “second candle” night.

At Hillel Day School, students entering the library see a colourful poster designed to provoke thoughts about the convergent holidays: Under a Thanksgivvukah headline are several questions, including

“How are Thanksgiving and Hanukkah alike?”

It may be very special to have Hanukkah and Thanksgiving on the same day. We should think about the creation, what God has given us all, believers in God and other believers. The secular element for Thanksgiving has been there always because it finds its historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, celebrating the reaping of the harvest. In many countries the heathen also had their harvest-home or harvest-festival, where they celebrated the blessings they got from nature. In lots of places was celebrated that the year came to a good end and was hoped and prayed to the gods to go in a good Winter season.

Origin of Thanksgiving

The radical reformers of 1536, wished to completely eliminate all Church holidays, including the heathen Christmas and Easter, but hose festivals looked to traditionally embedded they did not manage to get them our of the Christian holiday festivals. Though for many serious Bible students and sincere Christians, who knew Christ Jesus was born on the 17th of October 4BCE, the celebration of the goddess of light was a celebration they did not want to associate with. Therefore they wanted to say thanks to their God, and remember the birth of Christ Jesus on an other day.

In the 16th century the heathen holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special or Divine providence.

English: The Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, ...

The Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, Laing Art Gallery (Tyne and Wear Museums) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Strangely enough for their holidays they also took secular happenings. Days of Thanksgiving were called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and following the deliverance of Queen Anne in 1705. An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and developed into Guy Fawkes Day. In the Autumn of 1621 William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony, called for a day of thanksgiving and prayer after the colonists’ first harvest. An other thanksgiving day in 1623 celebrated rainfall after a drought. After 1630 a Day of Thanksgiving came to be observed every year after the harvest and other colonies in New England gradually adopted the practice. In the South the custom did not appear till 1855.

President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 officially proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. Traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday in November, it was changed by the act of congress in 1941 to the fourth Thursday of November.

The first Canadian Thanksgiving or Jour de l’Action de grâce is often traced back to 1578 and the explorer Martin Frobisher, in thanks not for the harvest but for surviving the long journey from England through the perils of storms and icebergs.

In Holland some commemorate the hospitality the Pilgrims received in Leiden on their way to the New World and thank God for His provisions. {Many of the Pilgrims who migrated to the Plymouth Plantation had resided in the city of Leiden from 1609–1620, many of whom had recorded their births, marriages and deaths at the Pieterskerk.}

Most of the U.S. aspects of Thanksgiving (such as the turkey), were incorporated when United Empire Loyalists began to flee from the United States during the American Revolution and settled in Canada. The Canadians celebrate it annually on the second Monday in October.

Origin of Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication, the Feast of Light

Antiochus IV Epiphanes had, because of his frustration not to extirpate the Jewish faith, desecrated the Second Temple of Jerusalem. To observe the rededication of the temple in 165 BCE {Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire} , a celebration of 8 days, beginning Kislev 25 (according to the Hebrew calendar), had to bring to the memory the indistinguishable and ever spreading Jewish faith. The ceremony also recalls the Talmud story of how a small, one-day supply of non desecrated oil miraculously burned in the temple for eight full days until new oil could be obtained.

English: Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanuk...

Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanukiah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Jews use a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah. { חנוכה (Hanukkah) is also the Hebrew acronym for ח נרות והלכה כבית הלל — “Eight candles, and the halakha is like the House of Hillel”. This is a reference to the disagreement between two rabbinical schools of thought — the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai — on the proper order in which to light the Hanukkah flames. Shammai opined that eight candles should be lit on the first night, seven on the second night, and so on down to one on the last night (because the miracle was greatest on the first day). Hillel argued in favor of starting with one candle and lighting an additional one every night, up to eight on the eighth night (because the miracle grew in greatness each day). Jewish law adopted the position of Hillel.}

Today on the first day of the festival the first arm is put on light. The second day a second candle is lighted. Progressing to eight on the final night. The typical Menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised branch. The extra light is called a shamash (sometimes spelled shamas Hebrew: שמש‎, “attendant” or “warden”) or gabbai ((Hebrew: גבאי‎) and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The purpose of the shamash is to have a light available for practical use, as using the Hanukkah lights themselves for purposes other than publicizing and meditating upon Hanukkah is forbidden.

In Sephardic families, the head of the household lights the candles, while in Ashkenazic families, all family members light.

A dedication to God

The name “Hanukkah” derives from the Hebrew verb “חנך”, meaning “to dedicate”. the Jews want to show others around them that they are willing to  dedicate themselves fully to the Most High Creator, the Adonai Elohim יהוה {Jehovah} Who created the heavens and the earth and  said, “Let light come to be,” and light came to be (Genesis 1:3). It was the Messenger of יהוה {Jehovah} who appeared to Mosheh  (Moses) in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. The God Who spoke often by the flames and should be are light in the darkness, is the One Who needs our attention. Those eight days we can meditate on His Works.

Jesus (Jeshua) also celebrated the Feast of lights or Hanukkah.

“22  then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. it was winter, 23 and Yeshua was walking around inside the temple area, in Shlomo’s colonnade.” (John 10:22-23 CJB)

When  Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon, he wanted to honour his Father and be thankful for all the things He did for him and his followers.

We do not have to go through Solomon’s porch any-more, but we do have to be thankful to our Creator like Jesus was thankful to Him. The Nazarene Jeshua remembered that in 167 BCE Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. Jeshua when he was alive never was called Jesus, Issou or ‘Hail Zeus’ and probably would not have liked it to be called that way. This name in honour of the Olympian “Father of gods and men”, the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology was only given many years later in Constantine’s time to adhere with the Roman Empire their gods and to have him as a part of a three-une god like in the Roman-Greek culture. By calling him the same as Zeus, Jeshua also could be called the god father, like Zeus. It was Antiochus who banned brit milah (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple (the sacrifice of pigs to the Greek gods was standard ritual practice in the Ancient Greek religion).

In the light of today

English: Saying grace before carving the turke...

Saying grace before carving the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner in the home of Earle Landis in Neffsville, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today Christians do not need to have a circumcision and do not need to bring any offerings, so there is certainly not needed a  sacrifice of pigs.

Hanukkah is not a “Sabbath-like” holiday, and there is no obligation to refrain from activities that are forbidden on the Sabbath, as specified in the Shulkhan Arukh. It is  and is celebrated with a series of rituals that are performed every day throughout the 8-day holiday, some are family-based and others communal. There are special additions to the daily prayer service, and a section is added to the blessing after meals.

For both occasions,  it is all about remembering the wonders of the Most High. The prayers and songs are presented to the Holy One who give us all things even when we may not deserve them. God has given his only begotten son Jeshua (Jesus Christ) who by giving his totally to his Father, presenting his body as a sacrifice, became the Messiah, the one who brought salvation to all people of the world.

“For Hanukkah, you usually just get presents and then for Thanksgiving you just eat. Now everything is just mixed together and I think that’s a great thing.”

said Jason Teper, an eighth-grader who was helping the second-graders with their menurkeys. But in many countries Hanukkah is in the first instance also a period of saying prayers to think God. In some countries the presents became more important. Also for the Christians the presenting food to the table of the lord, sharing the presents God has given us by the Work in nature,made lots of Christians concentrating on preparing a good festival meal at home for themselves. In many countries presents also became part of the holiday festival. For some Thanksgiving Day was such an important day like Christmas is/was for the Catholics.

Combined festivities

Saul Rube, Hillel’s dean of Judaic studies, said the light-hearted combinations of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah icons underscore a deeper bond: The Talmud, one of Judaism’s core texts, describes Hanukkah as a “holiday of thanksgiving.”

“The fact that you could meld our Jewish culture and the popular culture is such a wonderful opportunity, when so many times in December observant families feel … torn. They want to be part of that whole holiday season,” he said.

Rube said his Thanksgiving dinner table will have one notable addition: a challurkey, a loaf of Jewish challah bread in the shape of a turkey. Some Detroit-area bakeries are selling them but he found one he liked online from a kosher bakery and ordered it. It was only $12, but a good bit more for shipping.

“I splurged — I told my wife if we amortize the cost over 80,000 years ’til it happens again, it’s not so bad,” he said.

American Jews also love Thanksgiving and celebrate it every year with the rest of America. Some Jews consider Thanksgiving kosher, not for the thanking of the Creator, but because Thanksgiving is generally seen as a secular, national holiday in which people honour family and community, regardless of ethnic group or religious denomination. It is also popularly associated with pilgrims giving thanks for their new life in America, where they could practise their religion freely.

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, director of the Washington office of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad movement, says there is “nothing adverse to anything Jewish or contradictory to Judaism” in Thanksgiving.

“For that celebration to happen – as we are in our religious calendar celebrating our own religious freedom, as it was achieved in ancient times – makes it only that more emphatic,” he says.

People preparing meals for the poor at a Jewish community centre in Washington DC

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Additional reading:

  1. Being thankful
  2. Thanksgiving-Hanukkah overlap spurs thanks, angst
  3. What happens when you cross Thanksgiving with Hanukkah?
  4. Barry’s Best Bread for the Challah-Days