The past week has been filled with fun, reflection, thankfulness and as much food as allowed by law. In the midst of giving thanks I often think over how I got to where I am and why we celebrate the things that we do. With this in the back of my mind I logged onto Facebook to see what people were saying and doing. Reading post after post from my Virginia friends revealed that there is more to our Thanksgiving tradition than meets the eye. This creates a mostly one sided sibling rivalry between Virginia and Massachusetts. Virginia claims the first government sanctioned Thanksgiving in the British colonies, while Plymouth gets credit for inspiring the modern holiday.
Settlers landed at what is now called Berkley plantation, in Charles City County VA, on December 4, 1619. Expressly stated in their charter was an admonition that the day be, “kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.” This first decreed Thanksgiving was not about feasting but a day of prayer to be held every year to honor God’s provision and protection in venture that would someday become the United States.
The table décor at my mother’s house tell a different story though. This is the story of the pilgrims and natives who celebrated a strong harvest in the fall of 1621. The pilgrims found that after their long journey they had produced more than enough to last the winter months. They celebrated their success with native allies near the time of Michaelmas in September 1621. This celebration was not a state holiday until 1676.
Although the stories differ in time and place the pilgrims like the Virginians celebrated God’s provision and protection in their new venture. This stands as a strong reminder that even in tough circumstances we can find reason for praising Him. With this in mind I hope you are going into the Advent season as I am remembering Psalm 100:4.
“Enter into His Gates with thanksgiving, and into His Courts with praise: be thankful unto Him and bless His Name”