With Thanksgiving just weeks away, families are already making plans, from dinner to family trips. It is that time again where a turkey is carefully selected to sit in its rightful spot on the dinner table. Many family traditions that have lasted for generations are once again conducted by many. However, because Thanksgiving has been existent since the 17th century, many of the most original traditions have been all forgotten. As people who have been celebrating Thanksgiving for centuries, we ought to know the real reason why we should be recognizing Thanksgiving.
The First Thanksgiving was said to occur in November of 1621, when the Pilgrims’ first crop was successful. A feast had been called to order to celebrate the successful harvest, in which the Pilgrims and the Native Americans gathered to feast and give thanks to their God for providing a good harvest. After over a century, President George Washington officially proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday in November of 1789. Contextually, having won the war of Independence a few years prior, he expressed gratitude for his unlikely success, and stated the holiday as a “day of thanks”. Ever since 1789, America has never failed to recognize the day of thanks established centuries ago. However, the meaning has significantly diminished since the time it was first celebrated.
In the early years of celebration, Thanksgiving was a religious holiday where the people thanked their God for providing a successful crop in their desperate time of need. The original purpose of Thanksgiving was to set aside some time to express gratitude to their God for providing everything. And for a while, the people would set a certain day, namely Thanksgiving, to pray to God, thanking Him for what He had done on their behalf. From that, we come to the time of George Washington, where the purpose of Thanksgiving had become an expression of thanks for their victory in battle for independence. From there, many have forgotten that the word “thanks” was actually in Thanksgiving. Lessons on the holiday are now based around the iconic turkey and the coming of fall. There no longer are any specific lessons to the true purpose of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is no longer about giving thanks, but rather a time of celebrating a symbol of the holiday.
Although the central ideas of Thanksgiving are no longer existent, we as a people still celebrate the fall holiday. If we are to celebrate Thanksgiving properly, we ought to truly give thanks for who we have, what we have, and where we are.