Happy Thanksgiving

It’s hard to believe it’s almost Thanksgiving. I remember not too long ago posting a blog for the 4th of July. Wow, it’s amazing how time flies! However, this holiday is one of my favorites, because it’s a time still protected from most commercialism. It really is a peaceful celebration when families reflect on and share all of the good things in their lives.

My Research on Thanksgiving

As I was doing research on Thanksgiving I found that it actually had its roots in the Protestant Reformation. Prior to 1536 there were 95 Church holidays plus 52 Sundays. Reformers reduced the number of holidays to 27, but Puritans wanted to eliminate all church holidays including Christmas and Easter. They’d be replaced by days of fasting and thanksgiving.

The modern version of Thanksgiving is traced to 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The pilgrims were celebrating safe passage from England and a great harvest. That harvest came after miraculous rain that arrived in the middle of a drought. However the annual practice of celebrating this day really didn’t come until the late 1660s. Still it wasn’t yet an official holiday in the US. That didn’t happen until 1863 when President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving. And then in 1941 FDR changed the date to the 4th Thursday in November.

The Purpose of Thanksgiving

While there is much debate about the origins of Thanksgiving there is really little debate about its purpose. It was created to give thanks to God for what He’s given us. It could be a family, a job, a warm place to live, people who love us or many other blessings. True, some folks lack these things, but they still have purposes for which to give thanks. Now there are people who will argue for a more secular purpose, but to do that one would have to deny history.

The Pilgrims gave thanks, not only for safe passage and the harvest, but also for the freedom now experienced in America to worship as they pleased. In Europe, both the church hierarchy and the monarchy controlled their worship practices. Conversely, the Geneva Bible stressed freedom of worship in Christ and inspired the pilgrims. In fact, there were several explanatory notes in the Geneva Bible that were anti-monarchy and anti-church control of the believer.

The Freedom of Thanksgiving

Written by such reformers as John Calvin, John Knox, John Foxe, & others, the Geneva Bible embraced the priesthood of the individual believer. Common people did not need the church hierarchy to interpret for them. They were free to read and interpret for themselves. Accordingly, the pilgrims broke away from the Church hierarchy and met in homes to worship freely. Eventually they sought a more permanent freedom and risked their lives to sail across the treacherous ocean and come to America.

Apart from the study of history, we wouldn’t know the origins or the faith-driven nature of this great holiday. No doubt there are quite a few things to worry about these days, and these worries tend to bring anxiety. Though we see much trouble communicated in the daily news, I find that focusing on worries just tends to add to my anxiety. However, when I can be thankful for my blessings…my wife, children, grandchildren and friends…my health and so much more, those worries tend to fade. Maybe that’s why thanksgiving is so much more peaceful…we worry less and give thanks more.

My wish during this season is that peace will be true for you as well. To all of our readers, friends, clients, family and friends, I wish you and yours an overwhelmingly Happy Thanksgiving!