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Thanksgiving for all faiths

Thanksgiving for all faiths

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Like many other religious groups, Wiccans have a tradition of giving thanks in connection with the harvest season, said the Rev. Selena Fox, of Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church near Barneveld.

Some contemporary Wiccans celebrate the first harvest at the beginning of August, the abundant harvest in September, and the end of the harvest in late October, Fox told a group of about 100 people Sunday during the fourth annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration.

Across religions, there are traditions of not only giving thanks for food and the bounty of nature, but giving thanks on a daily basis: after a meal, when a person wakes up, or at the end of the day, Fox said.

“When to give thanks?” she asked. “Yes, there are certain times, but there is also the spontaneous Thanksgiving — giving thanks when it rises up within us.”

Gultekin Gollu, outreach coordinator for the Madison chapter of the Niagara Foundation, which promotes global fellowship, spoke about how Muslims constantly give thanks to God.

“Thanksgiving is a very basic and important concept in Islamic thought,” Gollu said, noting that the Koran’s second verse praises and gives gratitude for God. Muslims repeat this verse about 40 times a day, he said.

The event, sponsored by the Greater Madison Interreligious Association and more than two dozen area churches and civic organizations, including Lakeview Lutheran Church, which hosted it, blended speeches, music, readings, dances and meditative reflection across faith traditions. It was followed by a potluck social.

Joe Elder, a UW-Madison professor of sociology and Asian studies and a practicing Quaker, gave the keynote address, “Cross Cultural Perspectives on Thanksgiving.” He detailed Thanksgiving celebrations in Israel, China, Korea, Vietnam and south India.

All of them recognize the passage of time, express gratitude for nature, and involve gathering together with family and friends for shared meals, he said.

“In the end, all of them are collective recognitions of our dependence, as humans, on forces larger and more powerful than we humans are,” Elder said. “Even more important, all of them recognize our interdependence, as humans, on each other.”

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