The early pilgrims who arrived on The Mayflower were a Puritan religious sect who had fled England and sailed to Holland to escape religious persecution. There, they enjoyed more religious tolerance, but they eventually became disenchanted with the Dutch way of life, thinking it ungodly. Seeking a life more consistent with their faith, the Separatists negotiated with a London stock company to finance a pilgrimage to America, so 102 pilgrims boarded the Mayflower and headed to a new land; hopefully a land of promise.
They landed at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating and by the next fall nearly half had died, but the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one so the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast. They invited 91 natives who had helped them survive their first year, without whom they too would likely have died. This was a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance, and it lasted three days.
In a biography of my own ancestors it is written that a large group of them set sail from Wales and crossed “Great Ocean,” (The Atlantic) and travelled to a place where they hoped to find “soul freedom.” The term was translated in that biography to mean, “A place where they could worship God according to their conscience rather than according to the state,” and this would be the testimony of many of the early settlers.
The next "thanksgiving" feast was not repeated until 55 years later, when on June 20 the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, held a meeting to determine how best to express thanks for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established. By unanimous vote they proclaimed June 29 as a day of thanksgiving.
Over the years, the idea of a thanksgiving celebration was hit and miss, though, at times, it was declared in a given year, but it was the efforts of a female magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale that led to the Thanksgiving celebration, as we know it today. She wrote editorials in women’s magazines, sent letters to governors and presidents and her dream became a reality in 1863 when then President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November a national day of thanksgiving. Though the date has changed, the holiday remains.
As those who have the privilege of having God’s word in our personal possession, and who truly enjoy “soul freedom,” we understand that thanksgiving should not be just an annual event, but a constant part of our very fabric and being as Christians. Still, I personally am thankful for this; that our United States Government still calls for a NATIONAL DAY WHERE EVERY AMERICAN IS NOT ONLY ABLE TO, BUT IS ENCOURAGED TO GIVE GOD THANKS.
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Cor 9:15 )
I invite you to come join us on Sunday in the fellowship of loving and caring people! God bless.