Thanksgiving is a day of celebration that is traced as far back as 1610 to Virginia when it was chartered “that the day their ships arrived shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”
Later, in 1621, the settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season at the Plymouth Plantation. Squanto, a Patuxent Native American, was kidnapped by the English and brought to England where he learned English. After escaping, he returned to America to find his tribe had been massacred. He lived with the Wampanoag tribe and taught the pilgrims how to catch eel and to grow corn. His tribal chief had given food to the colonists during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient. They celebrated at Plymouth for three days after their first harvest. Those present included 50 individuals who were on the Mayflower and 90 Native Americans. Together, they expressed their gratitude to God for His bountiful blessings on them.
Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving in 1863. However, it wasn’t until the 1870s, after the Reconstruction was completed after the Civil War, that there was a nationwide Thanksgiving date.
Today, Thanksgiving is the day when:
- More food is eaten than any other time of the year;
- The Macy’s Day Parade is on TV in the morning;
- The meal is planned around the football schedule;
- Two turkeys are given the presidential pardon;
- Communities offer free Thanksgiving dinners for those in need;
- Food is collected for pantries;
- And most especially, families and friends gather for a large dinner to give thanks to God for the blessings of the past year.
- The homes of the Navajo fast the east, where they can greet the morning sun to thank God for another day.
- When a baby is born into the Hopi tribe, the mother and infant are kept in a darkened room for 28 days. The mother-in-law comes daily to bathe the infant. The mother is given certain foods that will help her body to be healthy and strong. In the morning of the 29th day, the grandmothers offer the infant to God, just as the sun begins to rise, thankful for this beautiful gift and to ask for blessings on the child and the family.