As you gather around the table this Thanksgiving to enjoy family, friends, and good food, don't forget to thank God for His blessings. However, you should also take a minute to remember how Thanksgiving began and how God used a courageous group of pilgrims to found our great nation.
The history of Thanksgiving began with William Bradford and his fellow Englishmen crossing the Atlantic Ocean to America aboard the Mayflower in 1620. These brave colonists endured two long, hard months at sea in search of a new life where they could worship God freely. When they landed in November at Plymouth Rock near modern day Plymouth, Massachusetts, they were simply happy to have survived the trip. Yet, they were not prepared for the harsh, upcoming New England winter.
After almost half of the new colony's population died during the first winter, members of the Native American Wampanoag Tribe befriended the colonists. The Wampanoag gave them skills they needed to survive, including lessons on fishing, planting, and hunting. Thanks to the Native Americans, the colonists caught and grew enough food by the fall of 1621 to survive the coming winter.
Wanting to give thanks to God, the colonists hosted a feast to celebrate the harvest and a much better life than the previous winter. While many cultures across the world had long celebrated good harvests with feasts of thanksgiving to their gods, this meal was thought of as the first Thanksgiving. In the fall of the following years, the governor of each New England colony declared a day of Thanksgiving, so people could thank God for supplying their needs.
In 1789, America's first president, George Washington, declared the first national Thanksgiving: "Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these states to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — that we may all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection." In 1941, Congress declared the fourth Thursday of November as a national holiday.
Our forefathers were very open about thanking God for His blessings and praying for His help in times of trouble. Thanksgiving is the perfect time for distance learning families at Alpha Omega Academy® to not only enjoy good food and fellowship with the ones we love, but also remember and thank God for the Christian history of our nation.