Throughout history our ancestors, and those before us, have celebrated their bountiful harvests with thanks-giving ceremonies and have spent time reflecting on everything there is to be thankful for. Harvest festivals and thanks-giving celebrations were held by the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Hebrews, and the Egyptians.
Both the ancient Greeks and Romans worshipped a goddess of grains - Demeter & Ceres (respectively) who were honored with an autumn festival at which a feast was held and offerings to the goddess were made. It was hoped that the goddess’ gratitude would grant the people a good harvest.
Jewish families also celebrate a harvest festival called Sukkoth, which is named for the huts (succots) that Moses and the Israelites lived in prior to reaching the Promised Land. Jewish families recall the tabernacles of their ancestors and even eat their meals in the huts under the evening sky during their celebration. Taking place each autumn, Sukkoth has been celebrated for over 3000 years.
The ancient Egyptians celebrated their harvest festival in honor of Min, their god of vegetation and fertility; however, unlike our Thanksgiving time, their festival was held in the springtime, the Egyptian’s harvest season.
Fast Forward to Thanksgiving in America:
In 1621, during the early American settlement - after a hard and devastating first year in the New World - the Pilgrim’s fall harvest was very successful and plentiful, and as such, the Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.
The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770’s) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress. The official Thanksgiving Day custom was adopted by New York State in 1817, and, by the middle of the 19th century, many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of Thanksgiving. Since then each President has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.
Fast Forward to Thanksgiving in Aggieland:
Starting as a scrap heap in 1907, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Bonfire symbolized every Aggie’s “burning desire” to beat the University of Texas in football. Students and alumni of Texas A&M University crowd campus on the eve before Texas A&M played the University of Texas to watch the famed Aggie Bonfire burn bright. Attracting tens of thousands of people each year to watch it burn, Bonfire became a symbol of the deep and unique camaraderie that is the Aggie Spirit.
Bonfire burned each year through 1998, with the exception of 1963. That year Bonfire was built but torn down in a tribute to President John F. Kennedy who was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. The second time in A&M’s history that Bonfire did not burn was almost exactly 92 years after the first Bonfire due to its collapse on Nov. 18, 1999 at 2:42 a.m. The collapse claimed the lives of 12 Aggies and injured 27 others. As the girlfriend of the Centerpole Pot and the fundraising chair for the Bonfire Reload Crew (BRC) during the year of the collapse, I was one of the first hand witnesses to this terrible traged y and I can recall the awe-inspiring Aggie Spirit from across the globe as our hearts poured out to those we loved and lost.
Now, prior to Thanksgiving, Aggies all over the world unite at The Bonfire Memorial celebrates the tradition, history, and spirit of Texas A&M and the dedication of those involved in the tragic collapse of the 1999 Bonfire. The Bonfire Memorial embodies all that is the Aggie Spirit.
And of course, after celebrating the tradition that unites thousands, Texas A&M University takes the field to Beat the Hell Outta LSU. This new tradition began when the Aggies joined the SEC and every other year, TAMU plays at Kyle Field and Thanksgiving in Aggieland is one not to be missed!
The Hayes-Hart Thanksgiving, which started with both my husband and I working ON Thanksgiving Day, has transcended to a time when we can now celebrate with our family and loved ones and spend time reflecting on all that we have to be thankful for – the main item of course, is not working on a Holiday! We are so blessed to work with such amazing companies that value family over fortune and generosity over greed. We give thanks for each and every person in our life that has helped us walk the path we are on and we hope you have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!