Celebrations and Holidays
Since Jehovah Witnesses do not observe certain traditions or ceremonies, i.e. pledge of allegiance, Christmas, I thought it would be an interesting discussion to look over the history of Holy Days and their purposes. Since there are soo many particular instances where the Jehovah Witnesses do not follow established practices, addressing all particular observances in depth that is not followed based on their rationale is much too broad to get closure on the subject since there will be too many tangents and red herrings to be meaningful.
So, I thought it would be better to address in Scripture the idea of Holy Days. Passover is probably the best demonstration of a Holiday. Since the Passover is based on a Jewish calendar system, I thought it would also be best for the Jehovah Witness to discuss Easter Sunday in relationship to a Christian observance using a different Calendar system. The placing of the observance is different for Catholic and Orthodox.
Questions of which I think could be addressed here is the following:
1) what cons***utes a holiday (holy day)?
2) Is the Julian, Gregorian, or ha'luach ha'ivri Hebrew Calendar more holy?
3) If God commanded the observance of the Passover, which is fulfilled by Christ, why do JWs not make any concessions to observing such particulars.
I am sure there are other such questions I can give. But I am hoping that the spirit of inquiry with the above questions might help guide my overall purpose of this discussion.
many national holidays were established long after the Pilgrims (Thanksgiving was first recognized by Lincoln, for example). however, a lot of Calendars mark a holiday in 'red', and if you notice, Sundays are usually marked in 'red' as well. so as Christians, we already have 52 Holidays marked on the 'calendar' of our hearts, and are 'celebrated' accordingly.
Last edited by Trinity; 04-21-2009 at 09:08 PM.
'not the same'
the Thanksgiving that the Pilgrims observed was in recognition of God having preserved them through the hardships they endured in establishing a colony devoted to God. the laws that governed them were summed up in the Mayflower Compact, as inspired by their resolve that the Bible is the Word of God.
ps ... not a white man, just a man.
Last edited by Trinity; 04-22-2009 at 12:24 PM.
"The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, which is commonly believed to have celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims in 1621,
did not achieve U.S. Government recognition until February 2007." [p.6]
Manitou and God:
North-American Indian Religions and
by R. Murray Thomas
2007, 292 pages
"When the harvest was completed and preparations were made to store some of the harvested grain for the next year’s cycle, thanksgiving ceremonies took place. Due to the cyclical nature of agriculture, many Native American groups held thanksgiving ceremonies throughout the year as each crop was harvested. The late winter when the maple sap flows, the spring when berries are gathered, and the late summer when the three sisters—beans, corn, and squash—are harvested are all times of thanksgiving. Prayers offered at these and other important times acknowledge the Creator and give thanks for all that has been provided (Bruchac 1993, 79–80)." [p.34-35]
Handbook of Native American Mythology
By Dawn E. Bastian and Judy K. Mitchell
Publishers abc-clio Inc.
2004, 297 pages
"Giveaway ceremonies take on vastly different forms in different communities. They will look different, be experienced differently, and will serve different purposes in different contexts. Still, they are a common thread that runs throughout nearly all American Indian traditions. They signal an emphasis on community, and on locating an individual within complex networks of reciprocal relationships. Communities exist to care for individuals, and individuals, in turn, exist in order to be generous and caring members of their communities. Giveaway ceremonies are places where individual iden***ies and positions within communities are established and affirmed, where social and spiritual status is conveyed and secured. They are moments for the expression of love, respect, thanksgiving, friendship, and family. Their central role within American Indian spiritual life speaks volumes about the worldview of traditional Native communities, in which spiritual well-being is inherently tied to being a part of a healthy, supportive, and caring community.
This gift-giving tradition and the ethic of generosity were strongly challenged by Christian missionaries and U.S. federal Indian agencies. Inspired by their own ethics of Western capitalism, the Protestant work ethic, and the nuclear family, Euro-American missionaries and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agents sought to outlaw indigenous giveaway ceremonies. They saw such events as contrary to the Euro-American work and save ethic, and referred to giveaway ceremonies as extravagant, dangerous, and licentious. Indigenous social ethics built on community obligation and reciprocal exchange contradicted missionaries’ ideals of single-family households, the holding of individual plots of land, working within a wage-labor system, and saving for retirement." [p. 349]
American Indians Religious Traditions
by Suzanne Crawford and Dennis Kelley
Publishers abc-clio Inc.
2005, 1271 pages
"Thanksgiving is an American holiday that is believed to have originated from initial celebrations between European colonists (such as the Pilgrims in Massachusetts) and Native Americans of social harmony and abundance at the time of harvest. However, Giving Thanks is an age-old Native American tradition that extends well beyond the celebration of a once-a-year holiday. The tradition of Giving Thanks is, and always has been, an ongoing part of Native culture. In the early colonial days, that tradition was combined with a European harvest celebration to create the Thanksgiving holiday that is celebrated today. For Native Americans, Giving Thanks is a way of life in which harmony and balance with one’s universe are essential. They are keenly aware of the importance of maintaining proper relations with the spirits of guides, ancestors, and the natural surroundings, because many of these spirits are considered the source of the bounty of the earth. Native traditionalists offer thanks to the spirits with the hope that they will be generous in the coming hunting or planting season, among other ongoing activities thataffect tribal communities.
Historically, it is unclear exactly when the first Thanksgiving celebration took place. However, the event probably most closely associated with today’s national holiday was a harvest celebration that occurred between the Puritans at Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts, and the surrounding Native people. After arriving the previous fall and surviving a harrowing winter with the help of a Native American man named Squanto, the Puritan settlers at Plymouth Plantation held their first Thanksgiving feast in the fall of 1621." [p.55-56]
Faith in America Native American
by Michael Tlanusta Garrett, J. T. Garrett, J. Gordon Melton,
Publishers Facts on File
2003, 128 pages
Last edited by Trinity; 04-22-2009 at 12:10 PM.
'thanks, but not thanks'
thanks to God, yes. to mother earth? no thanks. God created 'mother' earth, so it's easy to identify who is greater.
Originally Posted by PostTribber
Destiny is not a matter of faith, but it is a matter of choice. Have a thought for your great grandchildren and please try to pass them a healthy planet.
Originally Posted by PostTribber
'faith is not a choice'
those in Christ know this, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." (John 6:44)
you're right, destiny is a 'choice': 'sow a thought, reap an act. sow an act, reap a habit. sow a habit, reap a character. sow a character, reap a destiny.'
we make choices all day long, according to 'our' will which is bent towards sin. and each choice will come under the judgement of a holy God. yet, in spite of our choices, God chose to give us eternal life. but to gain that we must come through faith in Jesus Christ. there is no 'choice' in the matter. only Christ.
The harvest supper is a European tradition too, of ancient origin. I wouldn't say this is an example of Christianity "apropriating" a pagan festival (though that has happened), but rather that it's natural to celebrate after the hard work of ingathering, setting up store for the winter. It is not a directly religious celebration, as such, but it's been integrated into whatever religion was around at the time.
I guess the bigger question for the active JW today is: Why did the Society celebrate Christmas along with other holidays in addition to recognizing one's birthday during the time period when Jesus was inspecting the Society from 1914-1918, then declare them in 1919 as his "slave"? What the Society was practicing and teaching at that time supposedly passed the test of Jesus' examination and passed. Those teachings that Jesus stated were proper and approved in 1919 would find a JW today being quickly disfellowshipped for adhering to what his/her JW ancestors were practicing at the time of Jesus' examination.
Since God's word doesn't explicitly prohibit, or give permission, for holidays or birthday celebrations, it's best left up to the individual conscience of the believer. JWs most likely won't know how to handle a statement like that.
Originally Posted by Columcille
Pastor Russell and his Watchtower society was also promoting the demonic book 'Angels and Women' back in 1919. Their own charter stated you could identify the faithful and discrete slave by abstinence from spiritism, so they themselves are disqualified from being that based upon their own standard.
Originally Posted by Berean
I would rather state that since God's established Israel, that he indeed established holy days for the Israelites to observe. That in the N.T., everyday is meant to be considered holy and you are right that there is no prohibition against celebrating holy days. However, we do see in Acts 19.21 that St. Paul states, "but took leave of them, saying, "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem."
Originally Posted by ChrisLaRock
The Orthodox Study Bible states the following:
... The coming feast was either Passover, which became the Christian celebration of Christ's resurrection, or Pentacost, which became the celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit (See 20.16). Note there was already a budding liturgical "calendar" among the apostles, revealing their deep desire to gather in rememberance of the great Christian feasts.
In Acts 20.16 it states, "For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentacost."
The OSB note states:
That Paul desired to be with the other apostles in Jerusalem for Pentacost shows that a liturgical calendar based on sacred days was already being kept in the early Church. In that tradition, the Orthodox Church to this day keeps a calendar of special feasts, fasts, and celebrations (see 18.21 and note).
It seems to me that JWs would rather ignore the two passages of Paul's attempts to get to Jerusalem to keep a feast day because it does not agree with their preconceived notions.
Point out to the JW that the message the Watchtower presents as the gospel doesn't square with what the apostles were preaching in Acts. They don't prohibit holidays, even when preaching to pagans.
Originally Posted by Columcille