Skip to main content

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends and remember what to be thankful for. Millions of Americans treat themselves to a traditional meal while visiting with their loved ones. Elementary schools are flooded with handcrafts of turkeys, pilgrims, and lists of thankfulness before they submit their lists of desires in December.

A brief overview of the historical events that led to many of the Thanksgiving traditions can provide context for what the holiday is. In 1621, there was a fall festival held between the Native Americans and early European settlers. When the United States of America was formed, George Washington acknowledged this historical event in 1789 and named it the national day of thanks. The holiday did not become a tradition until the 1860s where Abraham Lincoln made it an official holiday. There was confusion about the exact Thursday of the month that the holiday was on until the debate was put to rest in 1941. It was decided that Thanksgiving Day was on the last Thursday of the month. In 1947, President Truman pardoned a turkey that was meant to be served on Thanksgiving Day and has remained a tradition in the White House ever since (Scholastic News). Since then, the Macys Thanksgiving Parade, football games, eating turkey, and countless other traditions have been a part of American culture for years.

While the origins of the first Thanksgiving may have been peaceful, there have since been many wars and plagues that have been unjust to Native Americans. Some have viewed this holiday as a misrepresentation of the relationship between European Settlers and Native Americans. Others view this holiday as a representation of the peace that can occur between people by being grateful for what the harvest has given them.

Thanksgiving is a holiday worth celebrating because it gives Americans a chance to reflect, be thankful, and give time to be with loved ones. This year, it is valuable for families to connect and reflect on this past year, even though it may be virtually for some. It is beneficial to look at history with knowledge and understanding about historical events and not misrepresent them. On the other hand, it is also valuable to have an opportunity for Americans to gather together with loved ones and give thanks to God for what He has done. The traditions that Thanksgiving entails may only be turkey and stuffing for some, but quality reflection time for others.

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:1-3).

Sources: A history of thanksgiving. (Reasons and Evidence: Common Core RI.4.7). (2014). Scholastic News (Explorer Ed.), 77(9), T4–.