Fall of 1621 saw the first harvest at the Plymouth Plantation. This is the event that is depicted in the paintings like the one above. This Thanksgiving was a celebration of a successful harvest.
Thanksgiving has been celebrated to give thanks for a variety of reasons but they were all celebrated because they were thankful for that particular something at that time. Things like adopting a constitution in this state…or a military victory in that state.
The first official recorded Thanksgiving observance was declared by the town council in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1671.
Through the 1700s, Thanksgiving was celebrated at various times during the year in many different places. In 1789 though, George Washington, President of the United States made a proclamation declaring Thanksgiving be celebrated on Thursday, November 26th.
…to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness…
– George Washington
It was not until President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, declared the annual holiday of Thanksgiving. His proclamation made the last Thursday in November be set apart for the purpose of giving thanks.
and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
– Abraham Lincoln
Up until now, these observances were declared by proclamation annually by ever president after him. Then, in 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the second to the last Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving Day. Even with those that refused to deviate from tradition, FDR continued to make this same declaration every year. He said that it would give an economic boost by extending the shopping season (and you thought the day after Thanksgiving sales were a new thing.)
One common theme throughout the history of this observance is that we have been giving thanks to the same person. That person being God Almighty and recognizing that it is His hand of providence that has been on us from the beginning.
Thanksgiving Day has been transformed over the years though. Nowadays, it is a day of football, eating and planning operations in regards to the attack on the retail locations housing the best deals the following morning (or later that evening.)
Now, I have nothing against football or shopping…and folks who know me know I don’t have anything against eating, but let us remember what this day is supposed to be about. Let us give thanks for all things. Let us give thanks for the food which He has provided…the loved ones that he has put in our lives…all things.
…let us give thanks for the roof over our heads, the clothes on our backs and the food on our tables…
– Steve Comer
So, y’all have a very enjoyable Thanksgiving and throw a word in for me when you are talkin’ to Him, will ya?