Thanksgiving Day.  What does that mean to you?  Does it mean, a day off work, out of school, to overeat, or watch a football game?  In the United States it is traditionally set aside to give thanks to God for His provision.  The first Thanksgiving Day in the New World was a three day feast which began on December 13, 1621.  It was a day the Pilgrim’s set aside to give thanks to God for His provision.  After a year of starvation during the harsh New England winter in which many of them had died, they planted and reaped a bountiful crop, thus ensuring their survival for the coming year.  They had hope and they were thankful.

Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving in these words:

“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as… served the company almost a week… Many of the Indians [came] amongst us and… their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought… And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE… FAR FROM WANT.”

President George Washington proclaimed the first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution in 1789.  The Protestant Episcopal Church, of which he was a member, announced that the first Thursday in November would become the regular day of giving thanks “unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.”   Nevertheless, this day was not celebrated nationally but only at the state level.

It was not until 1863 that President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving.  In 1941 that Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday. [2]

It is one thing to have a national thanksgiving day and quite another to have a personal thanksgiving day.  We are to give thanks everyday.  The advantage of a national day of thanksgiving is that we are reminded that as a nation, God has provided all that we need.  This leads me to the question, for what am I thankful?

  1. Eternal life through Jesus and the Written Word of God which teaches me how to have a right relationship with Him and with my neighbors.
  2. My children
  3. Extended family and friends
  4. The fellowship of believers
  5. His provision of food, shelter and clothing
  6. His healing of my body, soul and spirit

What are you thankful for?

Be blessed

Jane Owens

© 2012


[2] All the above information taken from