Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Christian Thanksgiving Tradition


The Thanksgiving holiday or Holy Day is rooted in Christianity.  It is a day to praise our Father in Heaven for the final harvest of the year.  The original Pilgrim celebration of Thanksgiving was called a harvest festival.  The Pilgrims were known for their Christian beliefs and the importance they put on studying the bible, so it is certain that they were aware of the Feast of Tabernacles and the importance of thanksgiving to our Father in Heaven.

The Mayflower Compact stated their mission was for the glory of God:

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

Source: [note:  I am a descendant of Degory Priest, a signer of the compact.]

Edward Winslow, in Mourt's Relation, documented their first Thanksgiving as follows:

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest 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 we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.  

The time of the festival:

The Pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth for three days after their first harvest in 1621. The exact time is unknown, but James Baker, then Plimoth Plantation vice president of research, stated in 1996, "The event occurred between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11, 1621, with the most likely time being around Michaelmas (Sept. 29, Day of Atonement), the traditional time."

Feast of Tabernacles

Based on Edward Winslow’s writings above, their harvest festival was celebrated just like the Israelite Feast of Tabernacles.  The Israelite Thanksgiving celebration was called the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths or Ingatherings.  Based on the solar calendar, the Feast of Tabernacles is typically celebrated from about October 2nd  to 10th which is 5 days after the Day of Atonement that is also known as Michaelmas.  In Canada their Thanksgiving holiday is observed during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.  It was commanded that we celebrate this, as follows:

Exodus 23: 14 Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. 15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread:(thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) 16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.

1851 Septuagint Exodus 23:16 And thou shalt keep the feast of the harvest of first fruits of thy labors, whatsoever thou shalt have sown in thy field, and the feast of completion at the end of the year in the gathering in of thy fruits out of thy field.

Exodus 34: 22 You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year's end.

Deu 16:13 "You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. 15 For seven days you shall keep the feast to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.


The Pilgrims studied the bible, therefore knew the importance of thanksgiving or praise to our Father in Heaven.  The word ‘thanksgiving’ appears in the bible many times.  It appears in the World English Bible 33 times, as follows:

Lev 7:11-15 "'This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which one shall offer to Yahweh.  If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mixed with oil.  With cakes of leavened bread he shall offer his offering with the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving.  Of it he shall offer one out of each offering for a heave offering to Yahweh. It shall be the priest's who sprinkles the blood of the peace offerings.  The flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering.

Lev 22:29 "When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Yahweh, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.

2 Chron 33:16 He built up the altar of Yahweh, and offered thereon sacrifices of peace- offerings and of thanksgiving, and commanded Judah to serve Yahweh, the God of Israel.

Neh 11:17 and Mattaniah the son of Mica, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, who was the chief to begin the thanksgiving in prayer,

Neh 12:8 Moreover the Levites:Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, [and] Mattaniah, who was over the thanksgiving, he and his brothers.

Neh 12:46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old there was a chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.

Psalm 26:7 That I may make the voice of thanksgiving to be heard, And tell of all your wondrous works.

Psalm 50:14 Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Pay your vows to the Most High.

Psalm 50:23 Whoever offers the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifies me, And prepares his way so that I will show God's salvation to him. "

Psalm 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 95:2 Let's come before his presence with thanksgiving. Let's extol him with songs!

Psalm 100:1 ((A Psalm of thanksgiving.)) Shout for joy to Yahweh, all you lands! 2 Serve Yahweh with gladness. Come before his presence with singing. 3 Know that Yahweh, he is God. It is he who has made us, and we are his. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, Into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, and bless his name. 5 For Yahweh is good. His loving kindness endures forever, His faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 107:22 Let them offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving, And declare his works with singing.

Psalm 116:17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call on the name of Yahweh.

Psalm 147:7 Sing to Yahweh with thanksgiving. Sing praises on the harp to our God, 8 Who covers the sky with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass grow on the mountains.

Isaiah 51: 3 For Yahweh has comforted Zion; he has comforted all her waste places, and has made her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Yahweh; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

Jer 17:26 They shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places round about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the lowland, and from the hill- country, and from the South, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meal- offerings, and frankincense, and bringing [sacrifices of] thanksgiving, to the house of Yahweh. 27 But if you will not listen to me to make the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates of it, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.

Jer 30:19 Out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of those who make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.

Jer 33: 11 the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, Give thanks to Yahweh of Hosts, for Yahweh is good, for his loving kindness endures forever; [and of them] who bring [sacrifices of] thanksgiving into the house of Yahweh. For I will cause the captivity of the land to return as at the first, says Yahweh.

Amos 4:5 Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, And proclaim free will offerings and brag about them: For this pleases you, you children of Israel, "says the Lord Yahweh.

Jonah 2:9 But I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving. I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation belongs to Yahweh. "

2 Cor 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

2 Cor 9:10 Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; 11 you being enriched in everything to all liberality, which works through us thanksgiving to God. 12 For this service of giving that you perform not only makes up for lack among the saints, but abounds also through many givings of thanks to God;

Phi 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Col 2:6 As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in it in thanksgiving.

Col 4:1 Masters, give to your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. 2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; 3 praying together for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds;

1 Thes 3:9 For what thanksgiving can we render again to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sakes before our God;

1 Tim 4:1 But the Spirit says expressly that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron; 3 forbidding marriage and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with thanksgiving. 5 For it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer.

Rev 7:10 They cried with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation be to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" 11 All the angels were standing around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before his throne, and worshiped God, 12 saying, "Amen! Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might, be to our God forever and ever! Amen."

It is no coincidence that the US Pilgrims and the Israelites both celebrated the final harvest, at the same time of the year, for a week of giving thanks to our Father in Heaven!

History of Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims to "Franksgiving"

Ben Shapiro: The Truth About Thanksgiving

Plymouth Colony: "The Pilgrims" 1955 Encyclopaedia Britannica Films American History 22min

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