Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse. ~Henry Van Dyke
Thanksgiving: In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. Historians have also recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Virginia in 1619.
The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed last Thursday of November as national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt said Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping…
Here is except of Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Proclamation of Thanksgiving’, Washington, D.C., October 3, 1863: … I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union…
In the article Pilgrim Lesson: Spreading the Wealth Brings Shared Poverty by Karen Gushta writes: Those who still think that it’s a good idea for government to spread the wealth around, must think they’re wiser than God. That’s what Plymouth governor William Bradford concluded nearly 400 years ago after one of America’s first socialist experiments led not to shared-wealth, but pooled poverty.
The Pilgrims, whom we remember on Thanksgiving Day, started life in the New World with a system of common ownership forced on them by Plymouth colony investors. That quasi-socialist arrangement proved disastrous, and had to be scrapped for one which gave these first Americans the right to keep the fruits of their labor — and incentive to produce more.
The 104 people who arrived at Plymouth Rock on December 21, 1620, were organized under a charter which imposed a seven-year period of joint ownership. Thus, from the day they arrived in the new world, all clothing, houses, lands, crops, and cash were jointly owned. No matter how hard a man might work, he had little hope of personal gain for his effort. Unless changed, the charter was an iron-clad guarantee of seven very lean years. It led to a social order at odds, and what 19th century historian James Eggleston called ‘sinking of personal interest … dissensions and insubordination… and famine’.
The communal arrangement also ill-fitted the Pilgrims for the demands of life on the edge of howling wilderness: The Pilgrims buried 44 people within the first three months, and a total of 50 poor wretches succumbed within the first year. The Pilgrims gathered what Governor Bradford described as a small harvest and celebrated their first Thanksgiving with the Indians in autumn of 1621, and another small harvest followed in 1622. The meager return came, in part, because the Pilgrims were unskilled at farming and because of the sandy New England soil. But more important, it was lack of any promise of return for their labors that caused even these God-fearing and devout settlers to fail to fully work the land.
Bradford wrote; that common ownership was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retarded much work which would have been to the general benefit and comfort. After much debate, Pilgrims abandoned the charter in March of 1623, and Governor Bradford allowed each man to plant corn for his own household… every family was assigned parcel of land, according to proportion of their numbers… this then was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that more corn was planted and harvested than otherwise would have been the case… Suddenly, these heretofore mediocre farmers became capitalist, and took great leaps forward.
The authors ‘D. James Kennedy and Charles Hull Wolfe’ report that while the Pilgrims planted 26 acres of corn, barley, and peas in 1621, and nearly 60 acres the next year, they planted 184 acres in 1623. Bradford reported that– instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God. Under the new system of private enterprise, ‘any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day’. With the Indian trade and ample food supply, the Pilgrims grew in prosperity and were soon able to buy out the interest of investors and get clear title to their land… However, four centuries later it’s lessons we still haven’t mastered.
In the article Thanksgiving: An American Celebration of the Creation of Wealth by Gary Hull writes: Thanksgiving celebrates man’s ability to produce. The cornucopia filled with exotic flowers and delicious fruits, the savory turkey with aromatic trimmings, the mouth-watering pies, the colorful decorations — it’s all a testament to the creation of wealth.
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, because this country was the first to create and to value material abundance. It’s America that has been the beacon for anyone who wants to escape from poverty and misery. It’s America that generated the unprecedented flood of goods that washed away centuries of privation. It’s America, by establishing the precondition of production — political freedom — that was able to unleash the dynamic, productive energy of its citizens.
This should be a source of pride to every self-supporting individual. It’s what Thanksgiving is designed to commemorate. But there are those who want to make Thanksgiving a day of national guilt. We should be ashamed, they say; for consuming a disproportionate share of world’s food. Our affluence, they say; constitutes a depletion of the planet’s resources, they say; are cause, not for celebration but atonement. But, all production is an act of creation. From food and clothing to science and art, every act of production requires thought.
This virtue of productiveness is what Thanksgiving is supposed to recognize. Sadly, this is a virtue rejected not only by the attackers of this holiday, but by its alleged defenders, as well. Many Americans make Thanksgiving into a religious festival, and they agree with Lincoln, who, upon declaring Thanksgiving national holiday in 1863, said; we have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. They ascribe our material abundance to God’s efforts, not people. That view is a slap in the face of any person who has worked an honest day in his life.
The values for this holiday are not faith and charity, but thought and production. The proper thanks for one’s wealth go not to some mystical deity but to oneself, if one has earned wealth. The liberal tells us that our food on Thanksgiving is the result of mindless, meaningless labor… The conservative tells us that it is the result of supernatural grace. Neither believes that it represents individual achievement. Wealth is the result of individual thought and effort, and each individual is morally entitled to keep and enjoy, the consequences of such thought and effort. He should not feel guilty for his own success…
Thanksgiving is holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada, and is celebrated each year on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. Historically, Thanksgiving had roots in religious and cultural tradition. Today, Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated as a secular holiday. Prayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common among almost all religions after harvests and at other times.
The holiday’s history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. It also has aspects of a harvest festival, even though the harvest in New England occurs well before the late November date of the holiday. In the English tradition, days of thanksgiving and special thanksgiving religious services became important during English Reformation…
Other places around world observe similar celebrations, for example: In Korean culture, the festival of Chuseok is celebrated typically around fall, and fills a similar social role as Thanksgiving. In Japan, Labor Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday… Thanksgiving, in America, was a feast among Pilgrims and Native Americans to celebrate their– wealth and their ability to produce, however small it might be… Thanksgiving is great opportunity to think of wealth as abundance of things that you value, for example: Family, Good Health, True Happiness… Be thankful. Be content. Be rich…