Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Giving Thanks for the Fall Harvest

Believe it or not, over time, truth tends to get revised and eventually forgotten.  If, that is, we don’t take care to pass the correct information down to each new generation.

Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed the 4th Thursday of November as our federal holiday of Thanksgiving.  It was to be a reminder of the faithful, God-fearing people who labored to give birth to a new and free nation.

To those familiar with the Biblical Fall Festival of Sukkot, (Tabernacles or Dwelling), Thanksgiving may seem like an addition to our Creator’s Appointed (Moed) Fall Festival.

I know there are strong opinions on this topic but I can see no harm in man-made traditions as long as they do not claim to be Holy days, i.e. Christmas.

“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD YHVH your God that I command you.”  Deuteronomy 4:2 ESV

With that said, Thanksgiving was celebrated on and off since George Washington.  Until our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, declared Thanksgiving to be an official national holiday.  Right in the middle of the Civil war of 1863, he said it to be a reminder of our nations humble beginning.

Adding, “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the Heavens.”

The First Thanksgiving Story:

In the year 1620, a group of 102 faith-filled Pilgrims believed that God was leading them to a new place where they could worship Him freely.

At that time Latin was the only Biblical translation allowed and anyone found reading an English translation was imprisoned or killed.  The Bishop didn’t want anyone to find out how corrupt the church was, as they had been deceiving the people with their man-made doctrines.

After several attempts to flee persecution a ship, called the Mayflower, finally made it as far as Plymouth.  After sixty five days of sea sickness, terrible food and no sanitation, they landed on a snow covered shore.  They couldn’t get their dwellings built fast enough before the weather grew worse. Flu-like symptoms swept through their colony and by the end of March nearly half were dead.

With the help of two English speaking Indians, Samoset and Squanto, the remaining colonists formed a peace pact with the Wampanoag tribe.  The Indians taught the settlers how to grow new crops and trap beaver for their pelts.

By October the harvest was ready.  Gratitude filled the hearts of the people as their health had been renewed and their harvest was abundant.

William Bradford, their new governor, declared a Thanksgiving festival.  I wonder if he knew Sukkot was that month, Leviticus 23:34?

They sent an invitation to Chief Massasoit and 90 braves came with him to celebrate. They also brought food and showed the pilgrims even more interesting things like, how to pop corn on hot bricks. The feast may have included turkey but most likely, venison, goose and seafood.

Thanksgiving is an annual reminder of the adversity that produced a strong people, able to endure and overcome trials, fearlessly and faithfully risking their lives to step into the unknown, with hope of the nation we live in today.



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