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Every day there is something to celebrate and give thanks for.

I'd like to put a slightly different twist on the comments in the May/June Beyond the sidewalks regarding the many festivals and celebrations of medieval peasants and others who were--and are--more attuned to nature than most urban Americans today.

Many of these were religious celebrations which many homesteaders might be happy to observe regardless of their religious convictions.

For generations before the arrival of the European colonial missionaries my people welcomed--and celebrated--the maple sugar moon. The running of the sap not only replenished our stores of a commodity we used on everything from wild rice to fish, but just as importantly, it heralded the end of winter, which was often a harsh time for us. It was more than a party: it was a time of thanksgiving to the Creator Spirit for providing these gifts... both the maple syrup and the coming of spring.

We celebrated spring, break-up, With the ice gone, fishing, and travel, and living were easier, and we thanks for that.

We asked for blessings of the first plantings, and gave thanks for the first ripe berries. We asked permission to harvest anything... any of our plant and animal brothers and sisters... and gave thanks afterwards.

And just as we celebrated and gave thanks for the end of winter, we observed its return, when our stores were safely cached and the first snow made tracking easier.

Indeed, seldom a day went by without something to celebrate and give thanks for, even if it were only the sunrise.

Then the European colonial missionaries came, gave thanks only before meals and otherwise prayed mostly on Sundays... and called us "pagans" as they tried to destroy our religion.

However, I suspect that a great many modem homesteaders, no matter what their religious convictions, might like to consider our approach. Perhaps many already do, even if subconsciously. The Great Spirit with many names made the life-giving sun to shine, the rain to fall, the plants and animals to reproduce and grow... not for a chosen few, but for everyone.

City people, as you have often pointed out, lose sight of these marvelous gifts. Their food--or so they seem to think--is manufactured in large factories, which makes chemists and nutritionists more important to them than the sun, rain and soil... and the Great Spirit that provides those. They scarcely notice the passing of the seasons. All they can think of to celebrate are two-legged based events such as the Fourth of July and Labor Day, and even their religious holidays have become commercial events.

Homesteaders are much more aware of nature--the gifts of the Creator--and are more likely to appreciate them. It follow that they are more likely to protect them... and to give thanks for them.

The birth and death of Christ gave rise to the festivals of Christmas and Easter, which have no meaning to the vast majority of humans--who are Moslems, Buddhist, Shintoists and many others.

But the sun and rain provide life to us all. Even Christian homesteaders. must acknowledge God's role in that. If they do, and pay attention to all of the wonders of creation that unfold in nature every day, then every day shows the presence, of power, the love of the Great Spirit. Every day is a Little Christmas, and a time for celebration.
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Title Annotation:homesteading ad Native American rituals
Author:Silver Bear
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Words:551
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