Celebration on Thanksgiving Day

Thu, Nov 26, 2009

Family, Thanksgiving Celebration

First Thanksgiving at Plymouth

First Thanksgiving at Plymouth

Thanksgiving Celebration

Celebration on Thanksgiving Day is a harvest festival celebrated primarily in Canada and the United States. Traditionally, it is a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general. While perhaps religious in origin, Thanksgiving is now primarily identified as a secular holiday.

The date and location of the first celebration on Thanksgiving Day is a topic of modest contention. The traditional “first Thanksgiving” is the celebration that occurred at the site of Plymouth Plantation, in 1621. The Plymouth celebration occurred early in the history of what would become one of the original thirteen colonies that became the United States. The celebration became an important part of the American myth by the 1800s.[citation needed] This Thanksgiving, modeled after celebrations that were commonplace in contemporary Europe, is generally regarded as America’s first. Elementary school teacher Robyn Gioia has argued that the earliest attested “thanksgiving” celebration in what is now the United States was celebrated by the Spanish on September 8, 1565 in what is now Saint Augustine, Florida.  Today, Celebration on Thanksgiving Day is on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. Thanksgiving dinner is held on this day, usually as a gathering of family members and friends.

The Revolutionary War to nationhood

During the American Revolutionary War the Continental Congress appointed one or more thanksgiving days each year, each time recommending to the executives of the various states the observance of these days in their states. The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was given by the Continental Congress in 1777:

FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to Him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased Him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of His common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that He hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please Him graciously to afford His Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please Him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.

And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.

George Washington, leader of the revolutionary forces in the American Revolutionary War, proclaimed a Thanksgiving in December 1777 as a victory celebration honoring the defeat of the British at Saratoga.
Thanksgiving proclamations in the first thirty years of nationhood

As President, on October 3, 1789, George Washington made the following proclamation and created the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the national government of the United States of America:

“ Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “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 signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.”

Saying grace before carving the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner.

Saying grace before carving the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner

Saying grace before carving the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner

Celebration on Thanksgiving Day was originally a religious observance for all the members of the community to give thanks to God for a common purpose. Historic reasons for community thanksgivings are the 1541 thanksgiving mass after the expedition of Coronado safely crossing part of Texas and finding game, and the 1777 thanksgiving after the victory in the revolutionary battle of Saratoga.  In his 1789 Proclamation, President Washington gave many noble reasons for a national Thanksgiving, including “for the civil and religious liberty,” for “useful knowledge,” and for God’s “kind care” and “His Providence.”  The only presidents to inject a specifically Christian focus to their proclamation have been Grover Cleveland in 1896,[21] and William McKinley in 1900. Several other presidents have cited the Judeo-Christian tradition. Gerald Ford’s 1975 declaration made no clear reference to any divinity.

The tradition of giving thanks to God is continued today in various forms. Various religious and spiritual organizations offer services and events on Thanksgiving themes the week-end before, the day of, or the week-end after Thanksgiving.

At home, it is a holiday tradition in many families to begin the Thanksgiving dinner by saying a grace prayer (a prayer before or after a meal).  The custom is portrayed in the photograph “Family Holding Hands and Praying Before a Thanksgiving Meal.” Traditionally grace prayer was led by the hostess or host, though in later times it is usual for others to contribute.

May we think to give thanks and to give gratitude to God everyday for what we have.  May we also pray for our families, friends and others; for the president and our politicians to do the right thing; for our military personnel to return home safely to us and their families; for our nation and for the world — that we, as individuals, will make it become a peaceful world with Freedom for all regardless of race, religion or ethnicity — as God intended for all — that there shall be a rainbow for everyone.

A beautiful video for your enjoyment.

Some Materials From Wikipedia and Ask.com

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