Every year as the holidays roll around many us in the Pagan, Wiccan, New Age, UU, indigenous communities have a difficult time meshing our beliefs with the secular holidays. Don’t get me wrong we love sitting and being thankful with our families or shopping for and sharing gifts as the next person, but we also know what really happened in regards to Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and even Christmas (yes Jesus was not really born on December 25). Christmas and Winter Solstice or Yule are probably the easiest to mesh with since many of the stories, myths,and symbol are similar. Many in these communities celebrate some or all of the holidays around December. In our family we personally recognize and share stories from the various December holidays.
The issue for many of us starts around Columbus Day. Yeah there maybe great sales, but at what cost. Schools still teach outdated history that Columbus discovered America in 1492. No he did not! He never set foot in America. Columbus landed in the Caribbean area particularly in the area of Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Cuba. While there he proceeded to rape, enslave, and murder indigenous people to the point he was returned to Spain and tried on maltreatment but was pardon as many good old white boys are (sorry still irritated about more recent atrocities) So, explain to me why we still celebrate a holiday and not only that teach it in school. My 5-year-old still doesn’t believe me because her school told her about Columbus. So what is a person to do? Research, share the true history, petition leaders to change what is taught to our children in schools and to acknowledge the true history not something hand fed to us by the Knights of Columbus.
Now on to the holiday that had me really thinking about what do our secular holidays in America really stand for. Honestly Thanksgiving has been a tough holiday since my mom passed the day after 15 years ago. That said it is still hard to celebrate a holiday to give thanks and gratitude when you think of the true story of the Pilgrims and the “Indians” Thanksgiving celebration. In 1616 English settlers did have a glorious feast after Squanto brokered a treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags. In 1634 the first Thanksgiving Day was named as a celebration for savagely murdering, beheading 700 of the Pequot tribe were murdered Later more and more tribes and land was taken and sold while indigenous people were murdered, sold into slavery, raped, and genocide. Thanksgiving days and celebrations became out of hand so George Washington suggested there be one day of Thanksgiving. So what is someone who knows the true history to do. Well to start we need to recognize and acknowledge the injustices behind these holidays. I am not sure personally what the right answer is. Do you celebrate it, honor its history, or treat as a final harvest feast as many indigenous tribes have a final harvest feast/celebration. In the end all I can say is to try and find what works for you and your family. Next blog will be ways to have a Thanksgiving while honoring the true history.