Thanksgiving is here once again, and with only four weeks until Christmas, the mad rush to stuff stockings and fill the void under the Christmas tree will officially begin not on “Black Friday,” but on Thanksgiving Day this year. Wal-Mart will offer some of its best deals on Thanksgiving. Americans will surely be out in force to buy them. This, along with two football games, movie theater visits, and other shopping excursions will certainly be a large part of the Thanksgiving “festivities.” It seems the holiday season is no longer a time of rest and reflection, a period of thanks and prayer for the blessings and bounties Americans enjoy. This was not always the case, and as with other “secular” holidays such as “Spring Vacation” or “Winter Break,” Thanksgiving has been perverted by commercialization and the politically correct agenda. Revisiting the American spirit of the day may help correct this problem.
Contrary to what most Americans are taught in school, the first American Thanksgiving was held on 4 December 1619 at the Berkeley Hundred, Virginia. After two treacherous months at sea, the thirty-eight English colonists who arrived in Virginia that day thanked God for their safe passage, and when Captain John Woodlief opened his instructions, the London Company, proprietors of the Virginia colony, ordered that the day of arrival be “yearly and perpetually kept as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.” Just two years later, the Pilgrims celebrated a day of thanksgiving and prayer in honor of a bountiful fall harvest. Governor William Bradford officially marked the day in 1623 with a proclamation of thanksgiving. Giving thanks to God for the plenty that Americans enjoyed became a tradition, both North and South, in the seventeenth century.