Rejoicing Together

Pilgrims and Puritans who began emigrating from England in the 1620s carried with them the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving to New England. This has been identified as the “First Thanksgiving.”

Edward Winslow, one of the Pilgrim Fathers, recalled the Plymouth celebration of 1621:

“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling, so that we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit 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 among us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted…”

The endearing—and enduring—aspects of our Thanksgiving holiday are easily identified as:

1) A public celebration specifically to acknowledge the goodness of God, whether in deliverance from calamities or in the daily dispensation of His bounties;

2) A time when family and friends can rejoice togetherover the faithfulness of Providence.

During this special season we joyfully follow the same instruction that was given to the Israelites regarding sacrificial thanksgiving offerings: “There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.” (Deuteronomy 12:7)

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