Could Thanksgiving have any sort of religious significance? We take a look at some factors.
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Thanksgiving is a day celebrating the blessing of harvest first practiced in America by Pilgrims and Puritans back in the 17th century. The actual history of how Thanksgiving started is disputed, yet its key theme of celebrating good harvest remains the same. However, there may be some religious influence to the nationwide observance!
We have to take note that in the Christian faith, giving thanks is something essential. This idea contributes to the thought of Thanksgiving being influenced by Christianity. Who else would devotees be thankful to and why would they even hold dinners for the celebration? Also, the Pilgrims supposedly celebrated Thanksgiving by spending time in church, listening to sermons, and singing praises.
Even then, historians argue that the first Thanksgiving was a secular event, where Pilgrims simply had fun in celebration of the moment. Over the course of time, they even invited non-Christian guests to celebrate with them. Perhaps their enjoyment was not meant to be a way to thank God for the bountiful harvest, but for the fact that they survived being exiled to the New World?
Yet how about the fact that Pilgrim beliefs were well-rooted in the Bible? If we take a peek into the Book of Exodus, we would assume that the Israelites probably celebrated in the same manner the Pilgrims did. They moved to a new land and made their dwelling in an unfamiliar realm, yet the most important thing for them is that they survived—all with God’s help.
Then again, the Pilgrims in the New World had no formal minister until a decade later, with the arrival of Pastor Ralph Smith. This means that for a decade, they could not hold any proper religious ceremonies.
Whether or not Thanksgiving was rooted in religious faith, one can always be thankful for the things around. As the Pilgrims called for a celebration of their abundant harvest, we are called as well to celebrate our abundant blessings.