Thanksgiving began as a ‘feast of harvest’. Historically all feasts, where celebrated by a nation of people, have roots in the religious culture. To be sure ‘Thanks is Given’ to the gods in remembrance of the ‘acts of deliverance and salvation’; ‘national disasters and plagues’; or the simplicity of a ‘successful harvest’.
Biblically, the Psalms is an outpouring of the “Heart of Thanksgiving”. “Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
(Psalms 30:4-5). “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” (Psalms 69:30). “Then we thy people, the flock of thy pasture, will give thanks to thee for ever; from generation to generation we will recount thy praise.” (Psalms 79:13). “Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!” (Psalms)
The Reform of 1536 brought change to what was ‘Ninety-Five’ Church holidays, compounded upon the 52 Sunday requirement to attend church and forego work. This took the number of Church holidays from 95 to 27. Such a drastic shift in worship brought with it the appointment of special days— some of which were for ‘Fasting’ and others for ‘Thanksgiving’. These ‘proclamations’ were made by church leaders prior to The ‘Revolution’. In America, state leaders took the part as political influences began to affect the issuance of Thanksgiving proclamations. American History records President George Washington proclaiming November 26, 1789 as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. Then on December 26, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s resolution provided a national Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November tho his motive would prove to be economics.
Even as the earliest tradition of Thanksgiving in America was a picture perfect Dinner with the full dress Pilgrims seated around the long table with the turkey as the center of the meal; even then it was in Prayer and Thanksgiving for The Harvest. Exactly when it evolved to where we now know it to be: all the trimmings— Greens, Yams, Chitterlings, Cranberry Sauce, Banana Pudding… lest we forget the Football. A day of Family… Home.
“Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home.” (Wilbur D. Nesbit)
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Albert Schweitzer
“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.” (Cicero)
“O Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.” (Shakespeare)
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” (Melody Beattie)
“That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.” (Psalms 26:7)
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