The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

21 11 2011

As we all enjoy turkey and the trimmings this Thanksgiving, you may be interested to know that the first Thanksgiving celebration in America was a  religious observance that didn’t include a feast.

It occurred in 1619 — more than a year before the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, present day Massachusetts. A group of 38 English settlers arrived on the banks of the James River at Berkeley Hundred Virginia and set aside a day to give thanks to God for their safe passage. The Thanksgiving as we know it today didn’t occur until 1621.  The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower.  The harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one and the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast including 91 natives who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true “Thanksgiving” observance.  It lasted three days.

Today’s Thanksgiving was set by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941). Earlier it was the last Thursday in November as was designated by the former President Abraham Lincoln.

Some have lost focus of the meaning of Thanksgiving.  It’s not about eating more food in a single day than you have all year, black Friday sales, football or just a 4 day weekend.  It’s a time to give thanks to God, reflect on His blessings, and to share with friends and family what you are thankful for.  If you look carefully enough on a daily basis you WILL find that you are blessed.  I am truly blessed as I hope you are as well, to be spending time with friends and family while giving thanks to God.

And that’s what Thanksgiving is really all about. The Pilgrims recognized that everything we have is a gift from God – even our sorrows. Their Thanksgiving tradition was established to honor God and thank Him for His blessings and His grace.

So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.
~Arthur Guiterman, The First Thanksgiving


Remember God’s bounty in the year.  String the pearls of His favor.

Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light!

Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude!

~Henry Ward Beecher



One response

23 11 2011

Thank you Brandon for recognizing why we celebrate Thanksgiving.
Just stopping long enough to read your blog, made me stop and give
thanks to God for all His goodness.

Silver Creek Leather

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