Twenty-four hours to Thanksgiving 2018. Being a Gentile, the similarities of Thanksgiving and the Jewish celebration of Passover had not occurred to me before today. As I researched the similarities I was reminded that there is very little in our experience that does not have a precedent.
Linking the celebrations
Of course Thanksgiving is our Western day of being invited to express our thanks for what is in our lives. That the events we commonly teach our children never occurred is not important. The Jews are celebrating successful exodus from Egypt, the Pilgrims for a successful exodus from Europe. For the Pilgrims, the voyage to a new, unknown land clearly parallels the Jewish migration from Egypt to a land none of them new. Neither is conducted in a place of worship, both are celebrations marked by specific and traditional foods. Both are based on an agricultural season; Thanksgiving; the harvest, incorporating foods of the harvest season, Passover being marked celebrated with foods of the spring season.. Each observation is an opportunity to pass along to a new generation history (or a version of history) and both unite a relatively small portion of our planet’s people. Thanksgiving is primary celebrated in America and Canada, but its observance includes people of all ethnic and economic strata, just as Passover is one of the few Jewish observances that incorporate the most secular to the most traditional.
Perhaps one of the most significant correlations between Thanksgiving and Passover is a common root in oppressed peoples fleeing lives filled with fear and danger; overcoming huge obstacles on a way to a freer life. Given the unfortunate attempts of many in our country to turn their backs on a new generation of people seeking freedom, perhaps this is an opportunity to pause a moment for true reflection about what we are celebrating.