26 November, 2009

The Thanksgiving Story

Photo Compliments: flickr.com

I'm sure that everybody knows the story of thanksgiving...or maybe we observe a holiday ignorantly, without any real significance. Well, here's to inform all who did not know and refresh the memories of all who knew previously.

The very first Thanksgiving feast was celebrated in 1621 by the pilgrims of the Plymouth colony along with about 90 Wampanoag Indians. The Pilgrims had suffered through a devastating winter in which nearly half their number died. Without the help of the Indians, none would have survived.

After the first harvest, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer to God. The food, which was eaten outdoors, included corn, geese, turkeys, ducks, eel, clams, leeks, plums, cod, bass, barley, venison and corn bread. The feast lasted 3 days. The exact date is unknown but it is apparent that the feast took place in late autumn.

In 1623, there was a period of drought which was countered by the colonists with a proclamation of prayer and fasting. This prayer and fasting was changed to another thanksgiving celebration when rains came during the prayers.

Later that year, Governor Bradford proclaimed November 29 as a time for pilgrims to gather and "listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings." Throughout American history, there were many thanksgiving proclamations and celebrations. In 1789 George Washington proclaimed a National Thanksgiving Day on the last Thursday in November, in honor of the new United States Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, the third president, later discontinued it, calling it "a kingly practice."

In 1863, Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb," convinced Abraham Lincoln to proclaim Thanksgiving a national holiday. For the date she chose the last Thursday in November because of Washington's proclamation. In 1941, it was officially changed to the fourth Thursday in November. Since Abraham Lincoln's proclamation, it has been a custom that all presidents of the United States make Thanksgiving proclamations every year.

All of the early Thanksgiving celebrations had one thing in common. The thanksgiving was directed toward God. It did not matter that many had very hard times. The people knew that God was their creator and provider and that all good things ultimately came from Him. In one of his Thanksgiving proclamations, George Bush declared, " In thankfulness and humility, we acknowledge, especially now, our dependence on One greater than ourselves."

We should not do any different. We should always look to God who has been faithful to us in thanksgiving.

May the Lord bless you richly. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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