Thanksgiving has always felt very close to Diaspora Greeks and no wonder as welcoming guests and giving thanks and blessings for the harvest is ingrained in Hellenism from ancient times. Perhaps the most prominent celebrating the harvest is that of Thesmophoria, also known today as “The Ancient Greek Thanksgiving Celebration,” a religious celebration dedicated to the goddess of harvest and fertility, Demeter, and her daughter Persephone.
Arguably, one of the most famous instances of hospitality and gratitude taught in schools and universities worldwide is that of the mythical King Alcinous of the Phaeacians who welcomes Odysseus, shows him hospitality, and provides his with safe passage back to his home in Ithaca. Homer describes the events in great detail to highlight the concept of Xenia which encompasses Hospitality, Generosity, and Courtesy to those who are far from home.
It also manifests through the concept of Hestia – the Ancient Greek Goddess of the Hearth and Domestic Life, as well as works referring to the harvest such as Aesop’s fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper.” It could be that this cultural heritage that has been passed down to us over the course of thousands of years has in part, shaped the concept of Philotimo in the context of Gratitude, Hospitality, and Warmth. It could be the reason why we feel Thanksgiving so close to our hearts.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!